Page 1

WINTER 2015/2016


Just Go ! 2016 BEST IN TRAVEL

Places to Go Now Fiji Dublin Cuba Friuli Japan Mumbai Auvergne Greenland Costa Verde Australia New Mexico



Go islandhopping in HAWAII Fall in love (again) with ROME Sleep on an AFRICAN ISLAND

Eat your way through NASHVILLE

EASY GETAWAYS: Baja, Sanibel Island, Quebec and Texas Hill Country GRAB-AND-GO MINI GUIDES: Istanbul, Chicago, Tokyo, Savoy and Reykjavík

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JUMP INTO THE NOW. WE’LL KEEP A SEAT FREE FOR YOU. In Ireland we live in the now. So don’t worry about tomorrow. Enjoy today’s stroll among Dublin’s landmarks, the stories that unfold on the Guinness Storehouse tour, or the enchantments of Ireland’s countryside. The unanticipated, the poetic and the astonishing, they’re all in the now. Come and share the now with us. Visit

editor’s letter

I WAS 10 YEARS OLD Lonely P lane t ’s gu ide books.

This magazine is created for the way people really travel. We want you to join that street parade,

when I first discovered

I distinctly remember curling up on the foor at a

in this issue we feature Tandy Wilson, celebrated

bookstore, riveted by all the information the book

chef and owner of City House, one of my favorite

held for my frst overseas trip to England. Over 20

restaurants, who shares his top picks for where and

years later, I still rely on Lonely Planet to give me

what to eat (p.34). We also feature easy winter es-

truthful and friendly travel advice, and I couldn’t be

capes to places I have enjoyed visiting or hope to vis-

more thrilled to be the editor of Lonely Planet,

it soon: I have fond childhood memories of Sanibel

launching with this issue.

Island, Florida (p. 56), and Baja California, Mexico

This magazine joins our 11-million-strong website,, as well as our family of guide-

(p. 50), and thanks to this issue I’ve added Quebec (p. 52) to my travel wish list.

books and cofee table books. Our readers are curious

Bavaria is another special place to me. Years

travelers looking for the best, most enriching travel ex-

ago I traveled there as a study abroad student and got

visit that unmarked

periences. We are here to provide inspiration and in-

to visit “Mad” King Ludwig II’s castle, and it was all

restaurant, and have

sider information to help you take the most informed

brought back to me in the tale told by Oliver Smith

that out-of-the-way

and memorable trip. This magazine is created for the

(p. 82). But a real test of my personal travel limits was

way people really travel. We want you to join that

hiking through southern Utah during a road trip

street parade, visit that unmarked restaurant, and have

along Scenic Byway 12 (p. 90), a part of the country

that out-of-the-way beach all to yourself.

I had never visited (with a hiking gene I never knew

beach all to yourself.

Traveling for me has always been a way not

I had!). The vistas were truly unforgettable and re-

only to experience other places and people, but also

minded me how a fresh perspective is sometimes the

to fnd a little more of myself along the way. We hope

most valuable memento you can bring home from a

that you will do the same, whether you’re exploring

new destination.

a faraway destination like Vietnam (p. 72) or staying closer to your own backyard. Nashville – Lonely Planet’s backyard – is a top city on our 2016 Best in Travel list (p. 59), and

I’m excited to take you around the world through our eyes, and hope we inspire you to, in the words of Lonely Planet co-founder Tony Wheeler, “Just go.” Happy travels,

Photo: Kate Davis

Lauren @laurenrfnney

Winter 2015 Lonely Planet


Winter 2015 Volume 1 / No. 1

FEATURES page 59 Your 2016 Travel List

Lonely Planet’s annual guide to the best countries, regions, cities and more.

page 72 Views froam Vietnam

From Hoi An to Hanoi, Vietnam is a country brimming with diversity, from its landscapes to its food to its people.

page 82 The Mad King of Bavaria

Germany’s most iconic castle serves as the stage for one of its most extraordinary stories: the rise and fall of legendary “Mad” King Ludwig II.

page 90 Utah, Uncovered

Photo: Jody Horton

The Beehive State’s national parks harbor some of the most impressive landscapes on Earth.

City House pizza

Winter 2015 Lonely Planet Magazine


Photos: clockwise from top left: Dominique Vorillon; Brown Cannon III; Matt Munro. All prices correct at press time.

Prices for hotel rooms are for double, en suite rooms in low season, unless otherwise stated. Flight prices are for the least expensive round-trip ticket.

globetrotter p 15 5 Spots A global list of the hot spots you need to know about now. 10 New Ways A fresh take on experiencing Rome. Arrivals Travel news for the season. Pack & Play Essential gear to take along on your sun or snow break.

clockwise from top left: Cuba; Fiji, hammock on Maui

Inside Knowledge Professional tips to help you get the most out of your vacation videos. What to Eat Nashville chef Tandy Wilson takes us through the food scene in his hometown.

‘All you’ve got

postcards p 39

great escape p 99

Chicago Make your

Lonely Planet readers share their travel photos.

An itinerary for islandhopping through Hawaii.

way through the best museums.

easy trips p 47

mini guides p 113

Ideas for super-easy, take-them-now trips to New York City, Baja California and more.

Dublin Discover the hidden

corners of Ireland’s capital. Tokyo Stay within budget in one of the world’s most expensive cities. Savoy Ski and much more in France’s winter wonderland.

Reykjavík Explore a range of

activities near Iceland’s capital. Istanbul History is center

stage in the city where East meets West.

to do is decide to go and the hardest part is over. So go!’ Tony Wheeler

#INLOVEWITHSWITZERLAND since he landed there. Buzz Aldrin, astronaut Apollo 11

Breithorn, Valais

Book now at and prepare to fall in love!


TANBUL Turkish Airlines is the proud sponsor of

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Photo by Brown W. Cannon III / Intersection Photos








Spots to Talk about Right Now Lo ne ly P lane t ’s Dest i nat i on Ed ito rs scour th e gl ob e lo o kin g for THE MOST AUTHENTIC, FUN AND INSPIRING PLACES, PEOPLE AND TRIPS.

Here, th ey sh are t he i r th e s e as on .

Art Basel Miami, Art Miami and countless satellite fairs crank up the culture factor in the best-looking city in S OU TH F LOR IDA . Throughout December, the city crackles with energy as restaurants, bars and pop-up clubs throng with the international art and fashion set.

Dora Whitaker, Eastern U.S.

Photo: © Art Basel, NOVA Instituto de Vision; work by Tania Candiani; Opposite, clockwise from top left: Shutterstock/S.Borisov; Shutterstock/Z.H.CHEN; Shutterstock/Endless Traveller; Shutterstock/William Berry

favorite h ot s p ot s for

Town squares across G ERMA N Y become cinnamon-scented from late November through December as Christmas markets pop up to get you in the festive spirit; Nuremberg’s Christkindlesmarkt is perhaps the most famous of all.

Gemma Graham, Northern Europe

Megan Eaves, North Asia Starting in late November, at least a million Purple Crow butterflies descend on Maolin District in SOU T HERN TA IWA N . Purple Butterfly

Illustration: boots-from the story Meanwhile, The Bolinas Winemaker by Wendy MacNaughton;

Valley (one of only two mass butterfly wintering spots in the world) is an enchanting place to spot the vividly colored butterflies as they

Las Fiestas de Zapote,

weather the winter in the

a weeklong celebration of Costa Rican culture complete with rodeos, carnival rides and an

region’s temperate climate.

Bailey Johnson, Central America and Caribbean

abundance of local food and beverages, takes place in SAN JOS É starting December 25.

Explore unearthly landscapes and

Matt Phillips, Sub-Saharan Africa

swim with whale sharks in DJ IB O U TI . It’s the coolest time of year, making trips down to the salt-encrusted shores of Lake Assal (508 feet below sea level) possible. Whale shark sightings are almost guaranteed in the Bay of Ghoubbet in December.

Lonely Planet




From revving a Vespa through handsome piazzas to visiting the pope’s private gardens, here are some unexpected ways to unlock the Eternal City’s immortal beauty.


ZIG, Z AG A ND ZO O M O N A V E S PA. A Vespa is the only way to navigate the pandemonium of Rome’s zigzagging alleyways and chaotic trafc, says Claudio Serra, who runs a small museum dedicated to the motor scooters and ofers Vespa tours and rentals from his store near the Colosseum. “You can park a Vespa outside the Pantheon; you can drive it along the motorway. It means freedom,” he says. • Rates for scooter rentals at Bici & Baci begin at $23 for three hours.


CYCL E A N AN C I EN T H I GH WAY. All roads lead to Rome, but none do so more gracefully than the Appian Way, built as the king of all Roman


Lonely Planet Winter 2015

highways in 312 BC. Today, cyclists pedal the 9-mile stretch closest to the city. • Bike rental is available from the ofce at 58/60 Via Appia Antica from $3 per hour.


SW I M LI K E MU SSO L I N I . The Foro Italico sports complex was founded by Fascist leader Mussolini. The ideology went long ago, but Mussolini’s impressive if questionable artistic taste remains. Lining the walls of the indoor swimming pool are epic mosaic depictions of seahorses and nude Fascist Adonises, flexing their guns and looking like they might at any moment go skinny-dipping in the shallow end. • Admission is free.

Calligraphy: Ward Schumaker; photo: Shutterstock / Catarina Belova

By Oliver Smith

Europe I N P R I VAT E YAC H T S T Y L E

E njoy Two FR E E H otel N ig ht s W h e n Yo u B o o k by D e ce m b e r 3 1 , 2 01 5

S tep away from the crowds. Away from towering decks, long lines, and all that you

seek to escape. Windstar brings you closer to the legendary places and the stunning smaller ports of Europe in pampered, personalized style. C a l l You r Trave l P ro fe ssion al or Wi nd star Cr ui ses at 800-24 0-3725, or Vis it Wi ndstar C r uis for More I nformat ion .

I TA LY • G R E E K I S L E S & T U R K E Y • M E D I T E R R A N E A N • N O R T H E R N E U R O P E



Visit the pope’s private gardens. Castel Gandolfo, outside Rome, is a 17th-century papal palace the size of a football field, with a magnificent garden overlooking the shores of the Tyrrhenian Sea. It is precisely this grandeur that meant its lawful resident (the



For 20 years the Gruppo Storico Romano has been hosting gladiator training classes at its “1st-century AD barracks” on the Appian Way. “For our students, it is about discipline, order and respect,” says gladiator trainer Pietro Giusto. • “Gladiator for a day” classes from $61;


PAY RESPECTS TO TWO R OM ANT IC P O ETS . The Non-Catholic Cemetery is a leafy plot of land most famous as the resting place of English poet John Keats, who died in Rome at age 25. He lies beside the ashes of his friend Percy Bysshe Shelley. A steady trickle of pilgrims putter among the wisteria-lined pathways to pay their respects to the poets. • Suggested donation for groups $3;


HU NT FO R A RARE VATI C AN EURO CO IN. The Vatican minted its frst euros a decade ago, but only in recent years have the coins entered circulation. If you happen to see Popes Benedict XVI, John Paul II or Francis looking up at you benignly from a coin in your palm, don’t spend it – some of the rarer coins might fetch nearly $100 from a collector. • If you come up empty-handed, you can always buy a euro coin, from about $4, from the Holy See’s Numismatic Ofce (


GRAB A GRAT TAC HECC A. Grattachecca – slivers of ice coated in syrup and topped with fresh fruit – is a traditional accompaniment to an evening stroll. One of the oldest grattachecca stands in Rome is Sora


Lonely Planet Winter 2015

Mirella, occupying a handsome racing-green stall beside the Tiber since 1915. • Sora Mirella is near Ponte Cestio in Trastevere; grattachecca from $3.


M A K E YO UR OW N M OSAI C . Mosaics have been part of Roman interior design for more than two millennia. Nowhere is this legacy upheld more proudly than Studio Cassio, a workshop in the butterscotch-yellow streets of the Monti neighborhood that ofers mosaic-making classes to novices. • Day courses from $54 a group for groups of up to fve;


GO R OW I N G, R O M AN - STYL E. The hilltop Villa Borghese gardens is a serene spot from which to marvel at the mayhem of the city below. At the boating lake in the north of the park, visitors and locals cast of in rowing boats, navigating the still waters among paddling terrapins, falling leaves and quacking ducks. • Boat rentals from 9:30 a.m. to sunset daily; from $6 for 20 minutes.

humble Pope Francis) chose not to spend his summer holidays here as his predecessors did, instead opening his gardens to the public for the first time. Visitor numbers are strictly limited, so stepping through the grand wrought-iron gates can feel a little like entering a secret garden.

» Guided tours of the Villa Barberini gardens take place daily except Sunday. From $26; biglietteria

Illustration by Wendy MacNaughton; photo: Justin Foulkes

Ancient Colosseum arena

Get planning with Lonely Planet Whatever you’re searching for, you can find with Lonely Planet’s award-winning website, mobile apps and savvy online community.

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Amazing Places to Stay

MAQAI ECO SURF RESORT ÿ Qa m e a I s l a n d, F i j i GOING GREEN: This family-friendly glamping resort (with accommodations in well-appointed eco-style safari tents) takes eco-tourism seriously. Ninety percent of the resort is solar powered, and there’s an on-site vegetable garden where you can help pick the day’s produce. Food waste is composted for the garden or taken back to the village to feed the pigs, rainwater is stored for washing, and linens are air-dried. The resort generates income for the village and supports all local businesses, from the fshermen to jewelry artists to furniture makers. AND: The resort is surrounded by world-class and rela-

tively undiscovered surf breaks. There’s a local surf guide for all skill levels (starting at $760 for a week of lodging, food and lessons). Doubles from $185;


Lonely Planet Winter 2015

Photo: Brown W. Cannon III / Intersection Photos


PROXIMITY HOTEL ÿ G re e n sb o r o , No r th C a ro l i n a GOING GREEN: There are over 70 sustainability practices in place at the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum certifed Proximity Hotel, including efcient building materials with 87 percent of construction waste recycled, a bistro bar made of salvaged storm wood, geothermal energy for the restaurant’s refrigeration equipment, and an elevator that feeds its energy back into the grid. AND: Print Works Bistro, a farm-to-table restaurant with-

in the hotel, ofers traditional and modern versions of classic European bistro dishes, such as mussels, flet and pan-seared duck. The restaurant also ofers cooking classes that include beverages, a cooking demonstration and a three-course meal with wine. $219–$289; MUMBO ISLAND ÿ L ak e Mal aw i N at io n al Park GOING GREEN: Into the whole Robinson Crusoe thing? Then this is the place for you. In the middle of Lake Malawi in southeast Africa, Mumbo Island aims to make as little impact as possible, preserving the land and its elements. There is no electricity, and “eco-loos” (dry composter toilets) are used to compost gardens on the mainland after being buried for a year. Water is pumped via solar power and the food is locally sourced.


AND: This island – just over half a mile in diameter – is


defnitely the place to chill out if you want an authentic African experience: the entire place is of-grid and uninterrupted. The park ofers some of the world’s best freshwater snorkeling and scuba-diving. From $230;




HOTEL TERRA JACKSON HOLE ÿ Teton Village, Wyoming GOING GREEN: This LEED Silver certifed property uses alternative clean energy sources as well as other energyefcient and recycled materials throughout the hotel. Organic mattresses, aluminum water bottles, 80 percent recycled steel, 100 percent recycled roof shingles, chemical-free cleaning supplies and Energy Star-approved windows will please even the most eco-conscious traveler.



Lonely Planet Winter 2015

AND: The hotel has ski-in access from the Jackson Hole

Mountain Resort. It’s a short walk to the area’s major ski lifts, and Grand Teton National Park is less than a mile away. The hotel’s Chill Spa ofers private treatment rooms, organic products and an outdoor rooftop hot tub. From $229; hotelterra

Architecture by Anne Field; photos clockwise from left: courtesy of Mumbo Island; courtesy of Proximity Hotel; courtesy of Hotel Terra




TRAVEL NEWS Need to Know:

TRAVELING TO CUBA American interest in Cuba is skyrocketing as the U.S. government’s travel restrictions to the island country continue to loosen. Here’s what you need to know if you want to travel to Cuba:

Choose a category. There are a dozen travel categories under which you can apply to go to Cuba – humanitarian eforts, family visits and religious activities, for example. The easiest and most popular way is to take a preplanned “peopleto-people” tour, an organized trip featuring daily educational and cultural activities, such as cigar rolling and musical performances.

Have a valid passport. Americans need a passport that will not expire until at least six months after the trip has been completed. You’ll need a visa to enter the country.

Get covered. Cuba requires all travelers to have non-U.S. medical insurance. You can buy a temporary policy prior to passing through the airport’s customs area.

Take cash. Before you travel, verify whether your credit cards will be accepted. If the exchange rate is good, consider taking euros or Canadian dollars to exchange for Cuban convertible pesos (CUCs).

Limit yourself. Americans are allowed to bring back up to $400 worth of goods for personal use (art, souvenirs), but no more than $100 of that can be for alcohol or tobacco products.


The best places to be this season

Witness the art and athleticism

Do your best Captain Jack during the

Take a spin at the

Smash marzipan-filled

Ring in the new year

Whirling Dervishes

chocolate cauldrons,

with the beautiful

of sumo wrestlers

Pirate Festival at

Festival in Konya,

then grab and

people of Brazil

during the Grand

George Town harbor

Turkey, December

gobble up the sweet

during Copacabana

Sumo Tournament

on Grand Cayman


pieces at L’Escalade

beach’s Reveillon

in Fukuoka, Japan,

Island, November

in Geneva,

on December 31.

starting November 1.


Switzerland, December 11–13.


Lonely Planet Winter 2015

Photo: Dominique Vorillon

*Check, and for updates on best travel practices.

Flight Plan ISLANDS MADE EASY Now it will be Transportation News

easier to dig

GOING UP Toronto’s new high-speed airport train, Union Pearson

your toes into

Express (aka UP), is now up and running for those

Caribbean sand:

looking for direct service between Toronto Pearson

United Airlines is

International Airport and Union Station downtown. Trains leave every 15 minutes from each location and the

ofering two

journey takes just 25 minutes (including two stops along

direct flights

the way), allowing travelers to avoid the hassle of


One for Ol’ Blue Eyes

from Chicago

Toronto’s unpredictable trafc. $21;

Gather up your personal Rat Pack and

O’Hare to

head to Fontainebleau Miami Beach. To


celebrate the centennial of Frank Sinatra’s

Turks and Caicos Islands, for the

Sinatra-themed fun. The legendary singer and actor, who performed

high season,

regularly at the Fontainebleau’s La Ronde

How to Stay


night-club, vacationed at the hotel and

Sleep With Your Tribe

19–April 30. The

Zoku, self-described as

even filmed movies on the property, will be honored through a photo exhibit, a


flights will depart

nightly toast and more, culminating in a


Saturdays at

concert on Ol’ Blue Eyes’s birthday,


10:40 a.m. from

aims to incorporate

Chicago and at

mobile ofce needs into

December 12.

1:49 p.m. from

a hotel room, creating a


home/ofce hybrid Illustrations by Patrick Hruby; photo: Ewout Huibers

birth, the resort is featuring 100 days of

where guests can work, relax and socialize with like-minded travelers. The first hotel is scheduled to open this fall in Amsterdam, and

At Your Service Did You Know? Airbnb






photographer to shoot your listing free of

there are plans to

charge. Get that living room camera-ready

expand internationally.

with a few eye-catching throw pillows.

Weesperstraat 105,

Shibori pillow ($65);


Winter 2015 Lonely Planet



Pack & Play All yo u r ne ed s fo r a n ac ti v i ty- fi l l ed o u t i n g , wh et h er sn ow o r s u n st ri kes yo ur fa n cy PHOTOGRAPHY BY CARIN KRASNER PRODUCED/STYLED BY KIM WONG

has hand warmers built into pockets

touch screenfriendly finger pads

Snow remote-controlled and rechargeable


Lonely Planet Winter 2015

Clockwise, from top right: snowboard ($379.95),; down ($279), patagonia .com; goggles ($239.95),; Thermacell insoles ($129.95) llbean .com; rubber boots ($120),; Camp gloves ($90),; compact binoculars ($59.95),; beanie ($24.95),






made of maplewood

rolls up into a smartphone holder


Clockwise, from top: insulated cup ($14),; BZ Skimboard ($45), wham-o .com; Enoki fip-fops ($65),; beach towel ($78),; fexible sunglasses ($119),; sport loafers ($169),; shorts ($49),; Vivoactive smartwatch ($249.99),; Flyknit trainer ($130),; board shorts ($75),; fexible sunglasses ($119),; board shorts ($95),


Lonely Planet Winter 2015

machine washable


Inside Knowledge

Check Out the New GoPro HERO + LCD

HOW TO TAKE BETTER VIDEOS Whether you’re a novice or a veteran videographer, here are a few tips to help you shoot better videos and inspire creativity for your next trip. “One of the things


A GOOD ESTABLISHING SHOT . . . tells the viewer your location and



we’ve learned is that the first time you see your video after you’ve

what you are doing. Don’t be

captured it, it’s an

gives you the opportunity to add

scared to show emotion; it makes

incredible experience, "

a graphic with the title of the

good viewing to witness how you

says Jason Hartford,

project in post-production.

react to situations.

a director of product management at GoPro. "People really love to





experience it on the small [GoPro] screen. [For the HERO +LCD]

if appropriate or available. Ask

we wanted to make a

seconds. If you are doing a left-

open-ended questions and leave

camera that’s more

to-right pan, you’ll need a very

dead space for editing before

accessible to users who

steady hand or a small tripod.

you ask the next question.

haven’t experienced a

and hold the shot for at least five

GoPro before.” This means an on-screen



touch display, highlight tags to revisit favorite moments,

what happened, your thoughts or

instant playback, and

emotions, and tease to the next

in-camera video

episode or clip if applicable.

trimming for immediate

Always aim to leave the viewer

uploading to share on

wanting more.

social media channels. “We wanted to help users to be able to do more with their content,

A few extra tips

BEFORE YOU GO, research local cultures and taboos. Embrace cultural differences and respect local customs.

instantly.” HERO+LCD Camera,


GET PERMISSION before filming. Respect the wishes of anyone who doesn't want to be filmed.


BE CAREFUL that your words aren’t lost in translation.


Listen to how the locals converse and try to adapt.


CARRY SOME SMALL CHANGE with you. People often will be all too happy to be filmed if you give them a tip.



Lonely Planet Winter 2015

Copyright © 2015 by Lonely Planet Global, Inc. All rights reserved.

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what to eat in nashville




Seemingly overnight, Nashville became one of America’s hottest dining destinations. Tandy Wilson’s City House restaurant has helped put Nashville on the culinary map. The restaurant has been turning out some of the best food in the South for eight years, winning a steady stream of accolades along the way, including three James Beard Awards nominations for chef and owner Wilson. The food – Italian cuisine inspired by the American South – is obviously taken seriously at City House, but with an ease and insouciance that is characteristic to Nashville as a whole.

“WE SPEND A LOT OF TIME FINDING GREAT PRODUCTS, WITH SIMPLE PREPARATIONS,” SAYS WILSON, A RARE NATIVE NASHVILLIAN WHO HAS HIS ROOTS FIRMLY PLANTED IN TENNESSEE SOIL. “IT’S SIMPLE FOOD, FROM THE SOUL, FROM THE HEART – FOR THE FAMILY.” Local ingredients play a starring role in Wilson’s cooking, and he takes care when working with his product, especially City House pizzas, which have a cult following. Creating the pizzas – the pork belly is legendary, though Wilson favors his seasonal versions – is a three-day process. “Lots of proofing gives our dough lots of flavor,” he says. The grits are also among his menu favorites. “Our grits are milled in-house. We


Lonely Planet Winter 2015

source our corn from Windy Acres Farm ( in Orlinda, Tennessee, whose grain is non-GMO and organic.” This attention to detail is especially prevalent on City House’s Sunday menu, which changes every week according to what’s fresh and seasonal, and could include produce from the downtown Nashville Farmers’ Market (, or local community supported agriculture groups. In warmer months, The Peach Truck’s ( Georgia peaches make appearances. Wilson also relies on Turnbull Creek Farm ( in Bon Aqua, where he buys produce from owner Tally May year-round. “The stuf through the winter is amazing, because she’s the only one growing anything,” Wilson says. “We have the type of relationship where she grows what we want and we cook what she grows.” Another farm favorite is Smiley Hollow Farm ( in Ridgetop, for “beautiful produce indigenous to Middle Tennessee.” Wilson advises going early to either farm, right when the farmers arrive, to get the best of what they are ofering that day. When he’s hungry for something besides City House fare, Wilson often heads a few blocks from his restaurant’s historic Germantown neighborhood to hit up Big Al’s Deli ( He’s especially fond of the skillet beans, which he proclaims to be “stupid awesome,” and he also recommends the “excellent” burger and catfish. “It’s a great local establishment that we [at City House] love to support. Big Al is there all the time, and he’s awesome,” says Wilson. If he has a hankering for pulled pork, it’s Martin’s BBQ Joint ( all the way for Wilson. After hours, he frequents The Treehouse (, where he took over the menu

TANDY’S TOP EATS Sandwich Joint

Big Al’s Deli 1828 4th Ave. N. 615-242-8118

For ’Cue

Martin’s BBQ Joint 3108 Belmont Blvd. 615-200-1181

Late Night

The Treehouse 1011 Clearview Ave. 615-454-4201

Best Brunch

Margot Café 1017 Woodland St. 615-227-4668

Fast Mexican

Mas Tacos Por Favor 732 McFerrin Ave. 615-543-6271

Vegetarian Eats

So Gong Dong Tofu House 1310 Antioch Pike # A 615-781-2022

Ethnic Bites

VN Pho + Deli 5906 Charlotte Pike 615-356-5995

Fine Dining

Prima 700 12th Ave. S. 615-873-4232

Clockwise from top left: Tandy Wilson; octopus in poaching liquid; City House restaurant; pizza just out of the oven

Nashvillian Tandy Wilson sources inspiration from his hometown. Clockwise from top left: Shelby Bottoms Greenway, where Wilson enjoys moments of quietude; Tallahassee May, proprietor of Turnbull Creek Farms, whose produce helps drive the ever-changing menu at the restaurant; the pulled pork sandwich at Martin’s BBQ Joint, which comes topped with coleslaw; honky-tonk Robert’s Western World, a downtown favorite among locals; seasonal sweet treats from popsicle place Las Paletas; a smoked whole hog prepped for pulling at Martin’s BBQ Joint; a banh mi sandwich at VN Pho + Deli; a meal at Wilson’s preferred hot chicken palace, Prince’s Hot Chicken; Chef Salvador Avila, a City House alum; and the bar scene at Avila’s fne-dining homage to Italian cooking, Prima

Illustration by Wendy MacNaughton

BEST BEVERAGES for one night earlier this year, serving up doubledecker tacos, “eggs in purgatory” and other creative dishes. “It’s an alternative to PBR’s and baby hipsters,” Wilson says with a laugh, referring to East Nashville’s propensity for trends. At Treehouse, “you can have a cheap beer or a nice cocktail and the food gives you great relief from the typical bar burgers you get elsewhere.” He often sees neighboring chef Ryan Berhardt, chef de cuisine of Margot Café (, walking over after fnishing his shift. It’s a real sense of community among the chefs who frequent Treehouse. “Todd Alan Martin [Treehouse chef], always fnds time to come and chat for a minute,” Wilson says. He also gives his stamp of approval to East Nashville’s popular food-truck-turned-brick-andmortar, Mas Tacos Por Favor ( Owner Teresa Mason is “a hometown girl who has done well,” he says. “The food is consistent and delicious. I love the fsh tacos and the fried avocado tacos.” When it comes to Asian eats, Wilson is a fan of the kimchi soup and dolsat bibimbap at Korean favorite So Gong Dong Tofu House (615-781-2022), as well as Vietnamese restaurant VN Pho + Deli’s (615-356-5995) banh mi with head cheese and pâté and the pork pho – “with the foot in it,” he insists. When sourcing for interesting ingredients, King Market ( is a defnite stop for Wilson (“for the fried pig intestines!”). “Everyone from City House goes to King Market and we often run into each other on our days of.” If an occasion calls for something more upscale, you can fnd Wilson at Prima (, located in the trendy downtown area the Gulch. “Everything about Prima makes it fne dining,” says Wilson. “The space is sleek, the service is very attentive without being intrusive. The chef, Sal Avila, is wellknown and respected. Years ago, Avila worked with us at City House; [he] will always be part of our City House family.” Wilson has high praise for the Nashville food community. “It’s friendly competition and I think that’s awesome,” he says. “The guy down the street is doing great food, and it keeps you on your toes. You better come to work ready to go, and that plate of food that was good enough this time last year is probably not good enough this time this year. It keeps the wheels turning, and it’s a constant encouragement in many ways, this community.”

City House’s General Manager, Juliet Ceballos, ofers three of her favorite places to imbibe.

No. 308 “The atmosphere at No. 308 is raucous and packed with energy. The music is loud, the drinks are stif and well-crafted, despite the volume of business. My favorite cocktail is currently the Salt of the Earth: a Scotch drink with a light hint of salinity countered by bright citrus oils.” 615-650–7344

Patterson House “If No. 308 is the black sheep of the family, Patterson House is the well-pressed, more behaved sibling. It’s a dimly lit, sophisticated and very quiet bar harking back to the speakeasy era. They usually have a seasonal Negroni that hits the spot on that frst round.”

thepattersonnashville .com

Corsair Distillery “My favorite spirit usually depends on the spirit of the evening! But for local products, Corsair Distillery’s Triple Smoke malt whiskey or artisan gin are great products and easy to incorporate into a cocktail.”

Winter 2015 Lonely Planet


In Dallas, you never know when inspiration will strike—because this is a city where anything is possible and every moment is BIG. Home to the nation’s largest urban arts district complete with contemporary museums, world-renowned performance halls and more, it’s a place full of unforgettable memories waiting to be made. It all starts at

postcards BÚÐIR, ICELAND A Kind Welcome We spent the morning exploring Reykjavík, testing diferent cofee shops, taking pictures of brilliant murals that stretched the entire side of buildings, and gathering needs for our 10-day camping trip. Setting out clockwise on the Ring Road, we couldn’t believe the drastic changes of terrain — from the ocean to fjords to glaciers to lava felds to the broad, green stretches of land. The church seemed appropriately intentional, as we felt alive, spoiled and full of anticipation pulling onto the Ring Road.

Anna McCoy is an illustrator and children’s book author.




Michał Ferens grew up in Poland and currently lives in Paris, France.


Lonely Planet Winter 2015


We were touring the remote and fascinating Phowintaung cave complex in central Myanmar when we came across these little monks taking a break from their studies in an adjacent village. They were so focused on their game, they were totally oblivious to our presence.

Sandeep Kesavan lives in Leeds, England, and spent 10 days in Myanmar.


Pam Harrison recently retired as a teacher and now intends to see much more of the world.

Winter 2015 Lonely Planet


postcards BUDAPEST, HUNGARY Golden Age

StĂŠphane Frahi is a languages teacher based in London.

ANNAPURNA, NEPAL Peace in Pokhara

Annapurna Mellor spent a year backpacking through Asia.


Lonely Planet Winter 2015

Get inspired by Lonely Planet Be whisked away to the places you want to go— whether you know it yet or not. Categories include: P H OTO G R A P H Y FO O D & D R I N K T R AV E L ES SAYS AND MORE!



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Alasdair Boyle is a keen amateur photographer from East Sussex, England.

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Lonely Planet Winter 2015

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easy trips

Photo: Brown W. Cannon III / Intersection Photos


Dreaming of a winter getaway? Here are 7 ideas for no-hassle breaks you can take right now. INCLUDING NEW YORK CITY BAJA CALIFORNIA, MEXICO SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA AND MORE

easy trips


Holiday Heaven

stay: The fireplaces at the

THE HOLIDAY SEASON IS MAGICAL IN NEW YORK CITY. It’s a festive bonanza this time of year, and once you embrace the spectacle of it all, you’ll surely be in the holiday spirit. Venture outside midtown Manhattan for some lesser-known seasonal highlights.

Marlton Hotel (from $195; and Jade Hotel (from $234;, both in Greenwich Village, and the Nylo Hotel (from $170;, on the Upper West Side, will keep you toasty on a cold

Visit Dyker Heights in Brooklyn for the neighborhood’s holiday lights display.

winter night.

do Drinking hot chocolate

Don’t miss

is a serious culinary sport in New York.

iconic seeing the Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center, ice skating at Bryant Park, Head to the New York Botanical Garden (nybt .org/hts ) in the Bronx to see the holiday train show.

and viewing the elaborate window dressings.

It comes unsweetened, bitter and dark at minichain La Colombe ( and thick with Italian charm and cream in Lavazza’s cioccolata con panna at Italian food mecca Eataly ( If spice if your thing, head to Jacques Torres Chocolate (mrchocolate .com) in the DUMBO neighborhood of Brooklyn. Back in Manhattan, City Bakery (thecitybakery .com), famous for its hot chocolate month

Skip the German food but have a cocktail at Rolf’s (,

(February) serves a hot

the jovial Gramercy Park spot where every surface is festooned with

chocolate that’s so

holiday paraphernalia.

decadent and dreamy –

At Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza, see the world’s largest menorah

and that’s before they

( Stop to marvel at the giant gingerbread village at the New York Science Hall’s GingerBread Lane ( Finish it all of with a stroll through Grand Central Terminal’s ( holiday market.


Lonely Planet Winter 2015

add the massive marshmallow to the top. For more on visiting New York City, see

Illustration by Wendy MacNaughton; bottom photo: Talisman Brolin

activities like

St. Ignatius Loyola ( ) on the Upper East Side offers a Christmas carol concert series that rivals anything at Carnegie Hall.



Great Smoky Mountains National Park America’s most visited national park ofers plenty of opportunities for adventure


ou don’t have to travel far for adventure. From Alaska to Florida traveled 33-mile Newfound Gap Road/U.S. Highway 441 spans the park and Hawaii to Maine, America’s national parks system covers from one end to the other, connecting park gateway towns Gatlinburg, more than 84 million acres, including 59 national parks and 18 Tennessee, and Cherokee, North Carolina. One of the park’s most recreation areas. That means that, wherever you are, outdoor popular scenic drives is Cades Cove, encircled by an 11-mile, one-way adventures and family fun are always within reach any weekend. loop road. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, straddling the border between Tennessee and Family Fun North Carolina, is America’s most visited The town of Gatlinburg’s enchanting winter Make it Happen national park. Most of the 10 million annual lights program features millions of Most visitors travel to the park by tourists arrive in mid-summer and October to environmentally friendly LED lights from car; Gatlinburg, the most-used drive scenic routes, hike to waterfalls and November through February ( entrance, is about a 3½- to 4-hour old-growth forests, and explore wellThe tourist mecca is overflowing with drive from Atlanta, Georgia, and preserved historic mountain settlements. souvenirs, quirky attractions, mini golf, Nashville, Tennessee. The Cherokee Those who visit this season can enjoy a arcades and the like, but there are also several entrance is about a 3-hour drive diferent experience: magnificent open vistas spots that are worth putting on your itinerary, from Charlotte, North Carolina. of snow-topped mountains and historic including Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies Some park facilities and scenic routes villages (easily viewed thanks to the leafless ( are closed in winter (call 865-436trees), moderate temperatures and – perhaps Take in great views of the mountains during 1200 for up-to-date information). best of all – no crowds. a 2.1-mile cable car ride to Ober Gatlinburg Amusement Park & Ski Area (obergatlinburg The National Park Service’s website has comprehensive and valuable Scenic Drives .com), which has an indoor ice rink and lots of information about visiting the park; There are more than 270 miles of (mostly kid-friendly attractions in addition to skiing, visit paved) road in the Smokies. The heavily snowboarding and snow tubing.

easy trips


Beyond Cabo in Baja IT’S EASY TO BE SEDUCED BY CABO SAN LUCAS’S POOLSIDE COCKTAILS AND CELEBRITY–spotting opportunities, but Baja California’s southern half has so much more to ofer.

fly Snag a direct fight to Cabo from any major U.S. city; prices average $400–$500 from the West Coast. You can rent a car at the airport.

Take part in a sea turtle monitoring program in Magdalena Bay on the west coast, or have jawdropping close encounters with gray whales a bit farther north in San Ignacio Lagoon.

stay Indulge in Mexican charm at the Guaycura Hotel (from $150; guaycura .com), a boutique option in Todos Santos with a stylish rooftop pool, or the

Over on the eastern side of the peninsula you can

Posada de las Flores (from

kayak around the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Espiritu

$150; posadadelasflores

Santo Island, taking time to swim among sea lions and tropical fish.

.com) which ofers hacienda-style accommodations in the center of Loreto.

For on-shore experiences, towns such as Todos

For more information see

Santos, La Paz and Loreto have charm in abundance, with centuries-old Mission churches, art galleries and food that will shake up any preconceptions you have

Photo: Brown W. Cannon III / Intersection Photos

about Mexican cuisine.


Lonely Planet Winter 2015


Discover DTLA DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES – THE AREA THAT STRETCHES WEST OF THE PASADENA FREEWAY AND NORTH OF THE SANTA MONICA FREEWAY – IS HAVING ITS MOMENT. What was once a wasteland after dark is now not only the city’s cultural, governmental, business and ethnic crossroads but also a destination.

fly Los Angeles International Airport is located a mere 15 miles from downtown, but it can feel like a world away with LA’s infamous trafc. A taxi to downtown is a fat rate of $47, but there are other ways to get where you need to go. LAX Flyaway (one-way, $8; is an afordable option that takes you right into downtown’s Union Station.

stay The undoubted king of DTLA accommodations is the Ace Hotel (from $250; /losangeles); the rooms are hip, albeit small. Another option is the Hotel Figueroa (from $148;, an owner-operated global-chic establishment.

Pass through the architectural marvel that is Union Station on your way to Chinatown, stopping at Grand Central

Photo: Matt Mariott/Discover LA

Market (, where vendors like the ever-popular Eggslut ( and Roast to Go are churning out serious food. Take a load of at the new Grand Park (, which abuts City Hall and announces itself through its distinctive hot-pink lawn furniture. Take a detour to Mexico without ever leaving the city: on Olvera Street, you can fnd authentic Chicano art, crafts and

There are several art and music sights to take in downtown, ranging from the better known Museum of Contemporary Art (moca .org), Grammy Museum ( and the stunning silver Walt Disney Concert Hall ( to relatively obscure galleries in the arts district.

For more information visit

LA’s oldest building, Avila Adobe.

Winter 2015 Lonely Planet


easy trips


Bienvenue, Ski Bunnies! SORRY, MONTRÉALAIS – THE SECRET IS OUT. Only an hour away from bustling Montreal lie the Laurentian Mountains, with rolling hills, lakes, picturesque villages and skiing that’s rivaled only by Whistler in all of Canada.

fly Flights arrive at MontrealTrudeau airport daily. Bus company Galland runs buses from Montreal’s Central Bus Station to the Laurentians three times daily

The busiest village in the Laurentians is Saint-

($18–$32; galland

Sauveur-des-Monts thanks to its proximity to

Montreal (just 37 miles away).

stay Le Petit Clocher (from

The Saint-Sauveur Valley Resort ( has about 100 runs for all levels of expertise, and the downhill skiing is particularly good in this region.

$185; lepetitclocher .com), a converted monastery, will serve you well if you choose to stay in Saint-Sauveur.

Mont Saint-Sauveur (admission per day $40–$54;

Closer to Mont- has night skiing, with

Tremblant, try the

many slopes open until 11 p.m.

Auberge Le Lupin (from $108;, a 1940s log house less

In the Mont-Tremblant area, start at Station

than a mile from the ski station.

Tremblant (half/full-day lift tickets $57/$76;, where you can ski 95 diferent trails under three snow parks.

For mountainside luxury, there’s Hotel Quintessence (suites from $280; (hotelquintessence .com), with wood

base lures 2.5 million annual visitors seeking a

fireplaces and plunge

snowy-weather haven.

baths. For more information, visit

The crown jewel of the region is the Mont-Tremblant area, slightly farther out and lorded over by the 2,871-foot high eponymous mountain (with a 2,116-foot vertical drop). 52

Lonely Planet Winter 2015

Photo: courtesy of Tourisme Laurentides

The pedestrian tourist village at Mont Tremblant’s

easy trips


Mosey On Through AUSTIN’S POPULARITY HAS EXPLODED IN RECENT YEARS, BUT IF YOU VENTURE JUST A LITTLE OUTSIDE THE LONE STAR STATE’S CAPITAL, you’ll be rewarded with the charming small towns in Texas Hill Country.

drive The drive is part of the fun, so start in either Austin or San Antonio and allow yourself to get lost on back roads.

Kerrville and Medina is

and Kerrville are great places to make home base,

one of the most scenic

Wine is a big draw in Hill Country (Texas is

while Luckenbach (population: 3, not counting

routes in Hill Country.

the ffth-largest wine-producing state),

the cat), Bandera and Comfort provide classic

with standout wineries such as Becker Vineyards (, Fall Creek Vineyards ( and Dry Comal Creek Vineyards ( producing a variety of wines available for sampling in their tasting rooms.

small-town distractions such as antiquing, live

It’s about two hours to

music and all things ranching and rodeo.

Kerrville from Austin and an hour from San Antonio;

Fourteen miles outside of Johnson City (named

Fredericksburg is about

not for the 36th President, Lyndon B. Johnson,

90 minutes from Austin

who was born nearby, but for town settler James

and just over an hour

Polk Johnson), you’ll want to stop at the LBJ

from San Antonio.

Ranch (house tours $3;, where LBJ lived and died.

stay What Kerrville lacks in charm, it makes up for in convenience. Skip the hotel chains along Sidney Baker Street and try the Trail’s End Guesthouse (from $99; In Stonewall, about 18 miles east of Fredericksburg, try Rose Hill Manor, a top-notch B&B ($199– $259; For more information on Hill Country, visit


Lonely Planet Winter 2015

Illustration from the story Meanwhile, The Bolinas Winemaker by Wendy MacNaughton; photo courtesy of Becker Vineyards

Highway 16 between

The comparatively larger towns of Fredericksburg

Bruce Munro’s “Field of Light” will be on display through May 2016 at the Desert Botanical Garden.


An Arts and Ale Trail IN BETWEEN THE ROUNDS OF GOLF AND THE SPA TREATMENTS SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA, IS KNOWN FOR, TAKE TIME OUT FOR A SPECIAL ART INSTALLATION SERIES BY BRUCE MUNRO. The British artist, whose works have been displayed worldwide, brings his brand of modern art to the Southwest. Stop by the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art ($7, free Thurs., Fri. and after 5 p.m. Sat.;, where Munro has transcribed a passage from the book Ferryman’s Crossing into Morse code and translated it into light.

fly Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport is 10 miles from downtown. The free Scottsdale Trolley runs through downtown every 15 minutes (scottsdaleaz .gov/trolley).

stay Take advantage of the

The other installations around town are

personal wellness options

“Blooms” on the Arizona Canal at the

at Boulders Resort &

waterfront (free;,

Spa (rooms from $99;

a group of installations at the Desert

Botanical Garden ($12.50–$30;, and a series of smaller works at Lisa Sette Gallery (free;

Collect stories, not selfies. You won’t remember the time you spent staring at your screen, but you’ll never forget your time with us in Hawaii. 866·774·2924 |

For more information on Scottsdale, visit

easy trips


Seek Tranquility on Island Time SANIBEL ON THE SOUTHWEST FLORIDA COAST, ALONG WITH ITS SMALLER SISTER ISLAND, CAPTIVA, IS KNOWN FOR ITS COMPARATIVE EGALITARIANISM, with riches rarely faunted and most of Sanibel’s northern section under protection within the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge.

fly Most major airlines fy into Naples, Florida, and from there it’s only about an hour’s drive to Sanibel. Alternatively, Fort Myers is only 20 miles away. You’ll need a vehicle to cross the causeway (cars/motorcycles $6/$2).

stay If you’re traveling with a group, look for an Airbnb or VBRO rental. For hotels and inns, try the Sandpiper Inn ($99–$199; palmview for a classic, old-Florida feel. For more of a resort experience, Sundial Beach Resort & Spa (from $199; has updated, sunny rooms ranging from bedroom units. For more information on the area, visit

A tightly controlled beachfront means there are no megacomplexes on the waterfront or eager-beaver day-trippers, making for a relatively undisturbed coastline. The island is known for it’s superb shelling – hundreds of thousands of shells of all shapes, varieties and colors arrive daily – and the “Sanibel Stoop,” the hunchback posture of its shell-seeking visitors. Beach-hop the 14 miles of coast from Bowman’s Beach to the picturesque Lighthouse Beach, fnishing at Captiva Beach for stunning Gulf Coast sunsets.


Lonely Planet Winter 2015

Photo: courtesy of the Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel

studios to three-

Lonely Planet included Indianapolis on their “Best in the U.S. 2015” list with nods to our century-old speedway and the world’s largest children’s museum. From the scenic canal in White River State Park to Monument Circle in the heart of the city, Indy has the places and spaces to make your next getaway unforgettable. Enjoy an urban experience that is surprisingly affordable, entirely approachable, and always hospitable.

For what to see, do, and eat, go to | FOLLOW US: @VisitIndy

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This is the most hotly contested topic at Lonely Planet. As self-confessed travel geeks, our staf collectively racks up hundreds of thousands of miles each year, exploring almost every destination on the planet in the process. Amid fierce debate, our panel of travel experts whittles down the list to 10 countries, 10 regions, 10 cities and 10 best value destinations. Each is chosen for its topicality, unique experiences and “wow” factor. We don’t just report on the trends, we set them – helping you get there before the crowds do. Turn the page to find out what made the cut for 2016.

Clouds reflecting in the Okavango River, Botswana, Africa Photo by Brown W. Cannon III / Intersection Photos

the dek and hed are being designed


Top 10 Countries


Photo by Brown W. Cannon III / Intersection Photos



BOTSWANA Africa’s unsung success

New Horizons in the land of the rising sun

In 2016 Botswana will celebrate its 50th year of independence. What’s there to shout about? Well, for starters, the country has Africa’s longest continuous multiparty democracy, a progressive social outlook, a healthy and enlightened tourism industry, and a fast-growing economy since gaining independence from Britain in 1966. That’s not all. Botswana is a unique destination: an unusual combination of desert and delta that draws an immense concentration of wildlife. Seventeen

percent of the country is dedicated to national parks, many of them spreading into the vast Transfrontier parks of Kavango-Zambezi and Kgalagadi. This dedication to conserving some of the world’s last remaining wildernesses was recognized in 2014 when the jewel in Botswana’s conservation crown, the Okavango Delta, became UNESCO’s 1,000th World Heritage Site. Go to Vumbura Plains Camp or Jao Camp for the trip of a lifetime, or go on a budget to community projects like Tsabong Camel Park and Moremi Gorge. Be a wildlife enthusiast and track elephants in the mini-Serengeti of Savuti or meerkats on the Makgadikgadi Pans. Whatever you do and whenever you go, you won’t regret it.


America’s best idea

Japan ranks number one for that quintessential notin-Kansas-anymore travel experience. Its cities are expertly crafted odes to futurism, where the trains whirr by in the blink of an eye and the towers of metal and glass are bathed in neon light. The countryside also feels otherworldly, with all-continents-in-one landscapes that blend alpine peaks with shimmering shores. Everywhere in between are prim wooden temples, the constant reminder of a well of deep-seated traditions. Tokyo will host the 2020 Summer Olympics, and Olympic fever is already apparent in the capital as the city executes an elaborate feat of urban planning that will create a brand-new shopping district, an entirely new Olympic village, and move the much-venerated Tsukiji fsh market (which sees over $20 million in seafood sales each day) to a sparkling new facility in late 2016. With the government’s continued eforts to devalue the Japanese yen, there’s no better time to experience the country that pays such vivid tribute to manic modernity and hallowed history.


From Yosemite’s mighty granite clifs and fairy-tale waterfalls and Zion’s claustrophobic slot canyons to the steamy swamps of the Everglades, America’s national parks boast some of the most spectacular and surreal landscapes on the planet. In 2016, the National Park Service turns 100 years old, and the federal agency has been working steadily to ensure the 59 parks are at their best for the centennial. It’s serious work that has the most wondrous end: discovery of the national parks themselves. There are 84.4 million acres to choose from.

The Pacifc’s greenest secret

Collected behind a 68-mile barrier reef, more than 200 largely unspoiled limestone and volcanic islands – a mere eight are inhabited – are blanketed in tropical and mangrove forest and surrounded by waters teeming with marine life. Palau is leading conservation eforts in the region. Such progressive thinking makes these islands a haven for diving and snorkeling as well as kayaking, sailing and wildlife watching. The secret is out in East Asia already, which means Palau is looking to limit the number of tourists it can host at a time.


Shining on its silver anniversary

Shutterstock / Blue Orange Studio



A fleet of (new) New Nordic chefs are catapulting local flavors to artisanal heights.

Celebrating 25 years of freedom from its Soviet fetters, little Latvia is poised to take center stage. The title of “most improved’” is rightfully deserved for casting aside the shadow of communism and resuscitating centuries-old traditions that have long made this Baltic treasure shine. Hundreds LIFE-CHANGING EXPERIENCE

The pirts – a hot birch sauna – will encourage you to eschew modesty while a sauna master lightly beats branches across your body.


of crumbling castles and manor houses hide in the nation’s dense pine forests, and today many of these estates have been lavishly transformed into inns and museums. Meanwhile, a feet of (new) New Nordic chefs are catapulting the local food scene to artisanal heights.

It’s believed that the Christmas tree originated here in 1510.


Gauja National Park has eccentric relics from the Soviet era, such as the 3,937-foot cement bobsled track for the Soviet Olympic team.

_ _ _1 Botswana_ _ _2 Japan_ _ _3 United States_ _ _4 Palau_ _ _5 Latvia_ _ _6 Australia_ _ _7 Poland_ _ _8 Uruguay_ _ _9 Greenland_ _ _10 Fiji_ _ _

Top 10 Countries



Reefs, forests and indigenous culture

Cultural capital

Getting to Australia usually involves folding yourself into a plane for 24 hours, but with 2016 shaping up as a defning year for several of Australia’s key wilderness areas, it’ll be 24 hours well spent. With the weak Australian dollar, there are good travel bargains to be had. Environmentally, battle lines are being drawn near the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland over a string of proposed mining ports. In Tasmania, the new state government is keen to unlock old-growth forest for export. Now is the time to experience these wilderness areas before compromises are made. More positively, increasing numbers of Aboriginal land rights claims are being recognized, and new indigenous tourism companies are ofering authentic cultural experiences. Contemporary Aboriginal art remains an Australian cultural high-water mark, as evidenced by the fab new Godinymayin Yijard Rivers Arts & Culture Centre in Katherine.

Wrocław, the historical capital of Silesia, is poised for stardom as a 2016 European Capital of Culture, makeovers are adding luster to lesser-known cities, and wildlife tourism is on the rise. Wrocław’s Old Town Hall, with gothic turrets fring of a custard-colored LIFE-CHANGING EXPERIENCE

Plummet 443 feet into the Wieliczka Salt Mine. In the UNESCOlisted grotto, carvings grace walls and chandeliers drip from the ceilings – all of them made of salt.

exterior, is one of Poland’s most beautiful buildings. In 2016 an artistin-residence program will promote Wrocław’s artists across borders, while world music days will combine infuences across 50 diferent countries.


Poland has a notable heavy metal scene. The death metal band Behemoth often lyrically protests the religious establishment.

Orange Alternative, an anticommunist underground movement, is known for its absurd protest style, including gnomes and dwarf graffiti.



› More than a bufer state

Back in the groove

Squished between Brazil and Argentina, Uruguay stands out as a haven of political stability, good governance and prosperity. Many of Uruguay’s 3 million expected visitors in 2016 will travel to

Always blessed by natural beauty and the kind of cli-

Montevideo for its great architecture, superb restaurant scene,

mate that makes clothes

beach-lined seafront and Old Town, featuring 19th-century neoclassical buildings. An hour’s drive away lies gaucho (cowboy) country. Punta del Este is a modern resort city on the Atlantic coast, and Colonia del Sacramento, with its cobblestoned alleyways, postcolonial ruins, art galleries and elegant B&Bs, has enough to keep visitors happy for days.

seem a tiresome necessity,

and confdence. Whether your bent is idling in a re-


Eating local is a hardcore mission here, given that the Arctic island has little agriculture tradition and no ground transportation. A new generation of chefs is taking on the challenge.


The iceberg that look down the Titanic most likely came from Ilulissat Icefjord in western Greenland, where it began as a snowfake some 15,000 years earlier.

extreme sport, or the more classic island delights of diving, sailing and angling, 2016 will be the year to soak up all Fiji has to ofer. The 2016 upgrade of the Nadi International Airport should increase capacity and make the transition to paradise a little smoother.

_ _ _1 Botswana_ _ _2 Japan_ _ _3 United States_ _ _4 Palau_ _ _5 Latvia_ _ _6 Australia_ _ _7 Poland_ _ _8 Uruguay_ _ _9 Greenland_ _ _10 Fiji_ _ _


Shutterstock / Nicoleta Raftu

There’s something wildly refreshing about a place that’s about 80 percent ice covered, boasts the world’s lowest population density, and has cellular coverage so poor that many rely on satellite phones. Come to see the midnight sun on the glaciers, sail among breaching whales, ride across the tundra on a dogsled, and watch the northern lights dance across the ice sheet. In March 2016 Greenland (technically a territory of Denmark rather than an independent country) will host the Arctic Winter Games, the largest event of its kind. From September to April, Greenland becomes one of the world’s prime places to see the aurora borealis, nature’s own laser light show.

and unprecedented vitality

the line sampling the latest

Arctic travel gets hotter


Fiji today has is a palpable

sort, putting your body on

9 GREENLAND Come to see the midnight sun on the glaciers, sail among breaching whales, ride across the tundra on a dogsled, and watch the northern lights dance across the ice sheet.



Photo by Brown W. Cannon III / Intersection Photos


Top 10 Regions



Lonely Planet Magazine Winter 2015


TRANSYLVANIA, ROMANIA Mountain thrills and edgy art in Vlad’s former home


Adventure in a land of raw beauty

This vast and varied region captures all the best of Iceland’s wildlife and nature: cloud-shrouded glaciers, rugged lava felds crisscrossed by gigantic lava tubes, gushing waterfalls and lush green felds perfect for horseback riding. Its 56-milelong Snæfellsnes Peninsula and Snæfellsjökull National Park are crowned by the glistening ice cap Snæfellsjökull. Into the Glacier, the new man-made ice cave in the Langjökull glacier, is now open to the public and drawing visitors to the blossoming region. Get there before the hordes! While tourism has been booming, the in-

This region of Romania has all the moody castles and fogdraped mountains you can wave a crucifx at. But visit Transylvania today and you’re just as likely to sashay through a wickedly inventive art gallery, spy on bears, or ski the Carpathian Mountains. Transylvania is experiencing a renaissance. Cluj-Napoca has been dubbed an art city of the future, and Brasov is attracting as many nightlife lovers as vampire hunters. Beyond the towns, all eyes are on Transylvania’s real fang-toothed predators: wolves, lynx and the majority of Romania’s 6,000-strong bear population. Wildlife sanctuaries such as Libearty are thriving, while eco-conscious tour operators ply the mountains. At long last Transylvania’s natural riches are taking center stage.

frastructure is only now starting to catch up with the demand.


The farmstead at Bjarnarhöfn is the region’s leading producer of hákari (fermented shark meat), a traditional and especially pungent Icelandic dish.


The region has Iceland’s densest concentration of remaining Viking sites, including the home of Erik the Red, father of Leifur Eiríksson, the frst European to visit America.

3 VALLE DE VIÑALES, CUBA Traditional Cuba at its best

After more than 50 years out in the cold, Cuba’s relationship with the United States is thawing and this Caribbean nation fnds itself on the brink of change. Havana has plenty to ofer in terms of architecture, history, music, museums and galleries, but for a taste of the slower pace of life known


the agricultural center of Valle

This page: Getty Images; opposite: Lonely Planet

de Viñales, approximately two hours’ drive from the capital. -del-rio-province/vinales

The island is an electric mix set against a Buddha Bar soundtrack: fast yet slow all at the same time. There’s nowhere else on earth quite like it.

to many Cubans, head west to

Italy, but not as you know it

A growing number of wine cognoscenti far beyond Italy visit Friuli-Venezia Giulia to experience for themselves the region’s rustic wine routes. The word may be out, but this is still a very little visited destination. Several certifed growing regions (“DOCs”) form a checkerboard between the cities of Udine, Gorizia and Trieste, with the highly respected Collio, Colli Orientali and the wild card Carso only around an hour’s drive apart.

5 WAIHEKE ISLAND, NEW ZEALAND Playground of the gods

An island utopia of secret coves, beautiful beaches, rolling vineyards, luxury lodges and bohemian sensibilities, Waiheke Island is afectionately known as the “Island of Wine.” It’s home to over 30 wineries and outstanding boutique cellar door experiences. Waiheke’s bohemian and hippie past is not far from the surface, and the is-

land continues to have a thriving artistic community where over 100 working artists ply their trades. Waiheke also is an outdoor enthusiast’s playground, where mountain biking, sea kayaking and sailing can all be indulged. -island

_ _ _1 Transylvania_ _ _2 West Iceland_ _ _3 Valle de Viñales_ _ _4 Friuli_ _ _5 Waiheke Island_ _ _6 The Auvergne_ _ _7 Hawaii_ _ _8 Bavaria_ _ _9 Costa Verde_ _ _10 St. Helena_ _ _

Top 10 Regions


› Fresh styles and flavors in France’s rustic heart The Auvergne’s glacier-carved valleys and volcanic peaks are more reminiscent of Iceland than the heart of France, but somehow it has long been overlooked. That’s all changing, as French travelers weary of tourist-clogged rivieras seek escape here. The Auvergne has responded by reinventing itself with ambitious art projects and wilderness adventures. Meanwhile, the region’s reputation for carb-heavy mountain cuisine is being challenged by more inventive fare. And between strolling medieval streets and watching buzzards during a mountain hike, there are plenty of ways to work up an appetite.



More to Hawaii than ever before


The beating heart of Hawaii is the Big Island’s Kilauea Volcano, one of the most active volcanoes in the world.

National Park on the Big Island both turn 100 years old. History bufs already know that 2016 marks the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Expect special exhibits and publications to commemorate these events. For more on Hawaii, see this issue’s Great Escape.


Standing at 33,500 feet (measured from its base on the sea floor), Mauna Kea is arguably the world’s tallest mountain – nearly a mile taller than Mount Everest.


Remote antidote to Rio Olympic fever

The Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro City may be Brazil’s biggest draw in 2016, but you’ll find a lesser-known paradise just west of the oceanside metropolis. Costa Verde (green coast) is a stretch of unspoiled shoreline featuring emerald peaks, peaceful islands, crashing waterfalls and stunning, near-deserted beaches. Rio and São Paulo may get most of Brazil’s limelight, but a trip to Costa Verde is warranted in its own right. You’ll wear the soles of your Havaianas thin taking everything in by foot; no cars except taxis are allowed on the cobbled streets of the UNESCO-listed colonial town of Paraty. The same goes for Vila do Abraão, the main beachfront hamlet of the region’s biggest island, Ilha Grande; the only vehicles you’ll see are the town’s single police car, garbage truck and fire engine. lonelyplanet .com/brazil/the-southeast/ilha-grande


Hawaii is one of the world’s most isolated and diverse archipelagoes. Over 90 percent of native Hawaiian wildlife is found nowhere else on Earth.

BAVARIA, GERMANY A boisterous beer birthday

Among Germany’s 16 states, Bavaria seems almost disproportionately blessed with good looks, abundant charisma and an easygoing manner. A tapestry of tourist treats unfolds between the mighty Alps and the undulating vineyards of Franconia. Visit walled medieval villages along the Romantic Road, and Naziera vestiges in Nuremberg and Berchtesgaden. Bavaria’s capital, Munich, bewitches with its sweeping gardens, superb museums, grand palaces and Oktoberfest, the world’s biggest beer bash. For more on Bavaria and the storybook castles of “Mad” King Ludwig II, see our feature story in this issue.

10 ST. HELENA, BRITISH TERRITORIES Experience a moment of evolution

“A little world, within itself, which excites our curioity.” That was how

Charles Darwin saw St. Helena, with its unique flora andfauna, when he visited in 1836. In 2016 this island in the South Atlantic Ocean will become a little less isolated when its much-talked-about airport opens. Previously the only way to visit was by sailing 1,926 miles from Cape Town on the RMS St. Helena – a 10day return trip; soon it will be possible to arrive in 5 1/2 hours on a flight from Johannesburg. LIFE-CHANGING EXPERIENCE

Known as the Galápagos of the South Atlantic, St. Helena spent 14 million years in isolation and boasts 500 endemic species not found anywhere else in the world.


Try Tungi, a cactus pear-based locally distilled liquor, and don’t miss the cofee: St. Helena cofee beans, originally sown on the island by the East India Company in 1733, are among the best and most expensive in the world.

_ _ _1 Transylvania_ _ _2 West Iceland_ _ _3 Valle de Viñales_ _ _4 Friuli_ _ _5 Waiheke Island_ _ _6 The Auvergne_ _ _7 Hawaii_ _ _8 Bavaria_ _ _9 Costa Verde_ _ _10 St. Helena_ _

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Golden sand beaches, emerald mountain peaks and a laid-back attitude: Hawaii is an easy sell. Once considered a destination just for sand and surf, the Hawaiian islands now are also attracting visitors for their food, history and adventure. In 2016 Haleakala National Park on Maui and Hawaii Volcanoes

The Auvergne has responded by reinventing itself with ambitious art projects and a portfolio of wilderness adventures.



Top 10 Cities



Top 10 Cities



KOTOR, MONTENEGRO Before it gets the cruise ship makeover

Wheels of fortune

Hemmed in on all sides by dramatic folds of rock, the city is a picture-perfect visage from virtually every angle. What lies within is just as memorable: a living, breathing town where locals catch up over strong cofee at cafés on cobbled squares, line up for warm bread at the bakery, and get their shoes repaired the cobbler’s shop. Get lost and experience local life in Kotor’s maze of alleyways and church-fronted plazas. Thankfully, the hordes of now-yousee-them, now-you-don’t tourists that fit on and of cruise ships have yet to leave a permanent mark on this quaint town.

As oil money surges in, the sprucing up continues at this UNESCO-listed smorgasbord of South American colonial architecture. Time seems to stand still in Quito’s historical center, which harks back to the 16th century, and in the tradition-steeped mountains around, but the snazzy modern face

of the city could be what entices you in 2016. Quito will become a lot more navigable with its much-hyped metro system poised to roll. The city also has a refurbished train station and a gleaming new airport, helping to lure high-end tourists to complement the adventureseeking backpackers.

Time seems to stand still in Quito’s historical center, which harks back to the 16th century, and in the tradition-steeped mountains around, but the snazzy modern face of the city could be what entices you in 2016.

3 DUBLIN, IRELAND › A city rejuvenated

An infux of people, energy and ideas are infusing this ever-beguiling, multilayered city with youthful vibrancy, optimism and creativity. In 2016, Dublin celebrates the centennial of the Easter Rising, the Irish republican insurrection against British government in Ireland. The upLIFE-CHANGING EXPERIENCE

Key sites where nationforming events took place, including the GPO, Kilmainham Gaol and Dublin Castle.


Join the boutique beer revolution and try craft beers at pubs like The Black Sheep and Against the Grain.


George Town has a compelling outdoor gallery of street art. The scene kicked of in 2010 thanks to state-sponsored installations of quirky steel artworks.


Clove Hall ofers respite in a restored Anglo-Malay mansion on a former clove plantation. Luxurious tropical gardens are dotted with spice trees and stately palms.

Futuristic architecture, inspired initiatives such as inner-city canal surfng, a proliferation of art, and a surge of dining and nightlife venues make Rotterdam one of Europe’s most exhilarating cities right now. Eye-popping recent openings include the Markthal Rotterdam, the country’s inaugural indoor food market. Early 2016 sees the Museum Rotterdam open, and in late 2016, Europe’s busiest port – already on the Paris–Amsterdam high-speed rail line – will become more accessible when direct Eurostar services linking London with Amsterdam stop at the stunning new skylit, stainless steel-encased Rotterdam Centraal train station.

_ _ _1 Kotor_ _ _2 Quito_ _ _3 Dublin_ _ _4 George Town _ _ _5 Rotterdam_ _ _6 Mumbai_ _ _7 Fremantle _ _ _8 Manchester_ _ _9 Nashville_ _ _10 Rome_ _ _

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Explore the superb hawker food scene, with culinary infuences coming from China, Malaysia, India, Thailand and the region’s Peranakan (Straits-Chinese) culture.

Public artworks the Tart with the Cart (Molly Malone statue) and the Stiletto in the Ghetto (Spire of Light).

Riding a wave of urban development

In the Malaysian state of Penang, George Town’s increasingly modern and art-focused spin is a fascinating counterpoint to its historical UNESCO World Heritage-listed streetscape. Initiatives such as the Urban Xchange: Crossing Over festival have inspired the creation of even more funky street art, and an abandoned former transportation hub has been repurposed as the Hin Bus Depot Art Centre. Time your visit with one of the city’s regular arts and music festivals to experience one of Asia’s most inventive and diverse arts communities. CURRENT CRAZE



Surprising art scene


rising failed but sparked a chain of events that ultimately led to the creation of the Irish Republic. Some $24 million has been set aside for planning the 2016 celebrations. For more on Dublin, see the “Hidden Corners of Dublin” Mini Guide in this issue.

6 MUMBAI, INDIA India, upgraded

With India predicted to overtake China as the world’s fastest growing economy in 2016, Mumbai is investing its wealth in an unprecedented phase of development. Abandoned colonial cotton mills are fnding new life as glitzy shopping centers, commuters speed above the streets on the new Mumbai LIFE-CHANGING EXPERIENCE

The boat ride to Elephanta Island is a chance to fee the crowds, breathe some clean air and enjoy the sea breezes.


Monorail, there’s a gleaming new terminal at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, and new towers are shooting up in the burbs. People used to come to Mumbai for Raj relics and temples; now, it’s all about food, shopping and Bollywood movie tours.

Millions depend on the city’s train network, and thrill seekers have made a sport of performing dangerous stunts on the roofs of the unbelievably crowded carriages.



Food fads are front-page news here, including the hashtag #beefban, when the state government introduced a fve-year jail term for the possession of beef.


Freo, way to go!

Cultural boomtown

Under the baking Western Australian sun, Fremantle is a raffish harbor town. Old-town “Freo” is a tight nest of streets with a classic cache of Victorian and Edwardian buildings. It’s an isolated place – closer to Jakarta than Sydney. Fremantle thrums with live-music rooms, hipster bars, boutique hotels, left-feld bookshops, craft-beer breweries, Indian Ocean seafood shacks, beaches and students on the run from the books. In 2016, Freo is bearing the fruits of a reinvention process, with thriving urban culture and a string of arts events celebrating the city’s essence.

The one-time engine room of the Industrial Revolution has found a new groove for the 21st century as an arts and culture dynamo. The government of “England’s second city” has committed more than $121 million to build The Factory, a multipurpose arts space that will be home to the Manchester International Festival. One of Britain’s most important art galleries, the Whitworth, reopened in 2015 after a $23 million revamp. New to the city is Home, a multiartform center with ambitions to produce the country’s best theater, flm and visual art. LIFE-CHANGING EXPERIENCE Get to the heart of the city’s most divisive passion and take in a football (soccer) match.

Strangeways Prison’s tower is pictured on The Smiths’ album Strangeways, Here We Come.


Manchester House, inspired by the molecular gastronomy of El Bulli, delivers fne dining with local fair.

Shiny, happy city

Hotter than a pepper sprout

Photo by Jody Horton




Country music is still the heart and soul of Music City, but poke your head outside the honky-tonks of lower Broadway and you’ll notice new sounds in the air: the grind of construction work, excited chatter at the latest restaurant or art gallery opening and the energetic thrum of

Mumbai is investing its wealth in an unprecedented phase of development.

new business. Hordes of young people are moving to town, while tastemakers are busy opening hip shops or transforming abandoned warehouses into creative retail space. For more on the city’s thriving dining scene, see “What To Eat in Nashville” in this issue.

There’s magic on every corner in Rome, with its sunbaked piazzas, ancient splendor and masterpiece-packed churches. But 2016 is a particularly sublime time to visit: it’s an official global jubilee Year of Mercy, as announced by Pope Francis, attracting streams of pilgrims to the city to celebrate their faith. Meanwhile, the Colosseum’s huge-scale, $27 million restoration job will be unveiled. For more on Italy’s capital, see “10 New Ways to Fall in Love with Rome” in this issue.

_ _ _1 Kotor_ _ _2 Quito_ _ _3 Dublin_ _ _4 George Town _ _ _5 Rotterdam_ _ _6 Mumbai_ _ _7 Fremantle _ _ _8 Manchester_ _ _9 Nashville_ _ _10 Rome_ _ _

There’s magic on every corner in Rome, with its sunbaked piazzas, ancient splendor and masterpiece-packed churches.






What you get in exchange for your hard-earned cash in Estonia is experiencing a gloriously distinctive slice of Europe, where Eastern and Nordic influences mix. Beyond the irresistible capital of Tallinn there are littleknown Baltic islands and the seashore and forest delights of Lahemaa National Park, which holds the distinction of being the frst national park in the old Soviet Union.

Beyond Santiago de Compostela, this wild region fragments into rocky coastline met by spectacular rias (inlets) and countless unspoiled villages. Galicia



Vietnam’s cities are best for budget options. Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are in that most magical of price brackets for the budget traveler: you can spend $20 per day or less for food, lodging and sights. Finding these prices will take you frmly into the territory of living like a local. For more on Hanoi, see our feature story about Vietnam.


is a more afordable destination compared with more visited parts of Spain. It costs less to enjoy the seafood and meat found in abundance in tapas bars here, and if you rent an efficiency with a kitchenette, especially outside the school holidays, you can save on lodging.

Spend a few days in this Francophone city touring the beautiful, UNESCO-listed old town, dining in old-school bistros, and getting thoroughly lost along the timeless cobblestone streets. With a little more time and your own wheels, Montmorency Forest and Jacques-Cartier National Park ofer a wilder taste of the province and superb wildlife viewing opportunities surprisingly closer to the city.


Take advantage of the excellent deals available to Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and the rest of the region. You’ll experience some of the world’s greatest wonders, from gorilla wildlife encounters to squeaky-sanded beaches. If you’re concerned about West Africa’s Ebola epidemic, note: Africa is a massive continent; London, Madrid and Paris are hundreds of miles closer to West Africa than East Africa’s tourism heartland is.

that’s likely to become a big noise over the next few years. Here you might see nesting turtles at Tortuguero, and go rafting on the Rio Pacuare or diving in the reefs of Manzanillo. Surfers and fans of laid-back black sand beaches should aim for the southern coast. Not sold? Two words: sloth sanctuary.



For a beautiful, afordable, active foodie corner of America’s Southwest, look no further than New Mexico. Dry, sunny weather is a near constant, and you

Get to the Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast to experience a still-evolving destination

East Timor (Timor-Leste), at the eastern end of the Indonesian archipelago, is little-known and highly afordable. Away from the pricey hotels of

can explore Albuquerque’s Breaking Bad sights for the price of a trolley ride and feast on cheap eats at a hole-in-the-wall taqueria. The outdoors is outstanding: winter sports, hiking in Alpine forests, petroglyph sites to track down and wild hot springs.

the capital, Dili, you’ll find bargain beach shacks on the pristine beaches of Jaco and Atauro Islands, plus misty hill country and afordable guesthouses. Despite ongo-



Bosnia and Herzegovina is one of those places where, regardless of where you come from, you’ll feel like you’re getting a good a deal. Inexpensive accommodations, meals and intercity transportation combined with historic cities (Sarajevo and Mostar) and afordable adrenaline pursuits (rafting on the Una River and skiing) reward both the impecunious and those seeking a less well-traveled Europe.

ing security concerns, traveling around Timor can be an old-fashioned adventure, complete with bumpy roads and packed local transportation.

The Australian dollar is a good deal for overseas visitors. This puts the dreamlike landscapes of Western Australia, out of reach for many due to the recent mining boom, frmly back on the map. Beyond cosmopolitan Perth, iconic natural sights abound here, from the rocky coast and winelands of the southwest to the outback treats of the Kimberly region, the town of Kununurra and the spectacular Pinnacles Desert.


See Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2016 ($14.99; for more on the hottest destinations, trends, journeys and all-around best travel experiences for the year ahead. Also visit

Photo by Brown W. Cannon III

E H T ORIE L G F O ET N I V Photo: Brown W. Cannon III / Intersection Photos



From the island-studded seas of the north to the meandering waterways of the south, Vietnam is a country defned by the diversity of its land and the resilience and generosity of its people. by Oliver Smith

Photo by Brown W. Cannon III / Intersection Photos


/ A food stall outside an Old Quarter temple

photos Photos:tktktkt Matt Munro

A CITY TRANSFORMED It’s rush hour in HANOI, and the streets of the city’s Old Quarter throng with hundreds of scooters. The sidewalk and the central road divides are fair game in the chaos; crosswalks exist more as a personal challenge than a guarantee of safe passage. These are streets where Evel Knievel might have written the highway code, where a grandma on a scooter will think nothing of driving headlong into a tidal wave of oncoming trafc. Hanoi is a city that refuses to grow old gracefully – a millennium-old capital of crumbling pagodas and labyrinthine streets now undergoing a transformation into a 21stcentury Asian metropolis. In the Old Quarter, ancient temples neighbor karaoke joints, and dynasties of artisans ply their trade next to shops selling stufed toys the size of grizzly bears. Hanoi is a city that muddles up its past with its present, a place where a statue of Lenin raises a clenched fist to teenagers who skateboard past him every afternoon. Few have studied the changing face of the city as closely as Do Hien, an artist who has spent a lifetime painting Hanoi’s streets. In his studio, he idly leafs through sketches of city life: couples waltzing beside the willows of Hoan Kiem Lake, and alleyways where hawkers prepare steaming bowls of pho. “Hanoi is a place that runs in your blood,” Hien says thoughtfully, sitting cross-legged among stubs of incense sticks and paintbrushes strewn across his studio floor. “Had I not lived in this city I might not be able to paint like I do.” There are reminders of darker chapters in Hanoi’s past among Hien’s collection. He began his career as a Viet Cong propaganda artist – applying brushstrokes in between dashing of to fight the Americans during the Vietnam War – and witnessed the bombing of his hometown during Christmas 1972. He shows me propaganda prints of antiaircraft guns firing into skies above the city, and a giant Vietnamese soldier grabbing an American B-52 bomber from the air with his bare hands, King Kong-style. Today, posters like these are in demand among collectors, yet Hien struggles to paint with the ferocity of his younger years. “I can copy these posters technically, but I don’t have the right kind of spirit,” he says. “I try to remember what I was feeling, but I don’t have the same anger anymore.” Like Hien’s artwork, Hanoi too has moved on. Hanging beside his front door is an oil painting of Long Bien Bridge, to many locals the enduring symbol of Hanoi’s resilience. Blown to pieces by American bombs 40 years ago, the bridge has long since been patched up and repaired. It now creaks under the weight of so many scooters passing through.

/ At left: a fruit seller headed to market; below: artist Do Hien in his studio



Hanoi is popular in our ThornTree travel forum, with many recommendations for hidden, captured moments, like this one: If you’re in Hanoi during the weekend, have your morning coffee at the northwest end of Nguyen Du Lake (you can walk there from the Old Quarter in less than half an hour, or take a taxi or bus). You’ll see lots of caged birds and rows of Vietnamese men who are gambling on which birds are the best singers, fighters, fliers or best-looking, and couples who linger there to simply enjoy what passes for tranquility in Hanoi.” – tumbleweeds

Winter 2015 Lonely Planet



/ Food tourism is nothing new to Hoi An; Chinese, Japanese and European merchants traded here in the 17th and 18th centuries.


Photos opposite page: Matt Munro; this page (top to bottom): ImageBroker/FLPA; Suzy Bennett/4Corners/4Corners Images

HOI AN is a small town that likes a big breakfast. At dawn, a

small army of chefs sets to work on Thai Phien street, firing up gas cookers and arranging plastic furniture on the sidewalk. Soon, the city awakens to sweet porridges, cofee that sends a lightning bolt of cafeine to sleepy heads, sizzling steaks, and broths that swim with turmeric, chili and ginger. In Vietnam, street food is a serious business: a single dish prepared day after day by the same cook, perfected and honed by a lifetime’s craft. “Food in Hoi An is about yin and yang,” explains Le Hanh, a young chef (courses from $35; who is scrutinizing vegetables at the morning market. “It’s about balancing hot with cool, sweet with sour, salty with spicy.” Carrying bags full of groceries, Hanh leads me to her cooking school in a quiet backstreet of Hoi An and quickly sets about chopping up green papayas and grilling fish in banana leaves. Cooking in Hoi An emphasizes the use of contrasting flavors: food that plays good cop/bad cop with the palate. The sharpness of fish sauce blends with the subtlety of fresh herbs, and cool lemongrass makes way for the eye-watering panic of accidentally chomping on a red chili. Food tourism is nothing new to Hoi An. Japanese, Chinese and European merchants sailed here in the 17th and 18th centuries, trading in silks and ceramics and making of with sacks of spices, tea and sugar. Still standing in the center of the town is a Chinese temple dedicated to Thien Hau, the Goddess of the Sea, with murals of her guiding cargo ships homeward through stormy waters. The port’s fortunes waned, and Hoi An has long since slipped into a state of graceful dishevelment. Today, purple bougainvillea springs from mustard-colored warehouses where merchants once kept their goods, and the teak and mahogany shutters creak on their hinges. Wire birdcages hang from the branches of tropical almond trees, pet pigeons, grackles and turtle doves cooing and trilling inside. It looks like the Orient as imagined in Graham Greene novels – a backdrop to period dramas involving khaki suits and grim telegrams from London. The merchants who brought Hoi An its fortune have long since departed, but their presence lingers on in the town’s gastronomy. Hanh reaches for a plate of cao lau, a noodle dish thought to have been inherited from Japanese and Chinese merchants but which purists insist should be made only using water from a particular well in a backstreet of Hoi An. “In Hoi An, we cook food from all over the world,” says Hanh. “We just make it better.”

/ Above: farmers market in Hoi An; at left: woman cycling along city street


The French left Vietnam in 1954, but the banh mi – a sandwich made with a baguette, mayo, pickled vegetables, peppery pork liver pâté and fresh herbs – has stayed behind. At Phuong (corner of Bach Dang and Nguyen Duy Hieu), they’re prepared on a wheeled cart parked on a nondescript street corner in Hoi An, but the banh mi sold from this vendor are considered among the best in Vietnam. If the combination of crispy bread and a meaty, spicy filling isn’t enough, revel in the fact that a sandwich at Phuong will set you back a whopping 15,000 dong (about $0.70).

Winter 2015 Lonely Planet


G N O L A H Y A B Once upon a time, a friendly dragon lived in the heavens above HALONG BAY. With invaders from the seas threatening Vietnam, the gods asked the dragon to create a natural barrier to protect its people. The dragon kindly obliged, performing a spectacular crash landing along the coast – digging up chunks of rock with its flailing tail and spitting out pearls – before grinding to a halt. This scene of devastation is now known as Halong Bay. Halong translates as “where the dragon descends into the sea.” Less exciting explanations of this landscape involve eons of erosion by wind and waves, but nobody disputes the splendor of the end result. Rising from the shallows of the Gulf of Tonkin are thousands of limestone islands – towering monoliths lined up like dominoes, some teetering at worrying angles. “In Vietnamese culture, dragons are the protectors of people,” explains Vo Tan, a guide who has been bringing people to Halong Bay for more than two decades. “I once saw a picture of Halong Bay taken from above, and it even looked a bit like a dragon.” Sailing into Halong Bay, it’s easy to understand the

/ Boats in Halong Bay, Quang Ninh, Vietnam

hallucinatory efect these strange shapes can have. The islands’ names testify to the overactive imaginations of sailors who’ve spent too long at sea: Fighting Cock Island, Finger Island, Virgin Grotto (which is said to contain a rock the shape of a beautiful woman). Having largely resisted human settlement, the islands have become home to other creatures. From above, sea eagles swoop down to pluck fish from the waters, carrying their prey, still flapping, high into the air, and squawking congratulations to each other from their nests. Down below, countless jellyfish drift about the hollows that run beneath the clifs. A local legend tells of another, altogether more sinister creature lurking in the waters of Halong Bay. A gigantic sea snake and close cousin of the Loch Ness Monster, the Tarasque was seen on three occasions by 19th-century French sailors, with sightings sporadically reported in Vietnam’s tabloids since then. I ask Tan who would win in a battle between the Tarasque and Halong Bay’s famous dragon. “Of course the dragon would win,” he says, grinning. “In Vietnamese stories, the good guys are never allowed to lose.”

Photo: Gareth Jones


Rising from the shallows of the Gulf of Tonkin are thousands of limestone islands – towering monoliths lined up like dominoes, some teetering at worrying angles.


/ The river is a way of life on the delta; for centuries, life has ebbed and owed here.

Opposite: Getty Images/Robert Harding World Imagery; photos this page: Matt Munro

WATER, WATER, EVERYWHERE A heavy rain is falling on the MEKONG DELTA, flooding the footpaths, swilling in the gutters, turning riverbank mud from light tan to a rich cofee color. In the villages, everyone runs for cover: men, women and infants, plus chickens, geese, dogs and cats – enough animals to fill Old MacDonald’s farm – all scurrying under iron sheet roofs and looking hopefully up at a slate-gray sky. A tangled network of rivers, tributaries and canals, the waters of the delta crisscross the lowlands of southern Vietnam before emptying out into the South China Sea through mighty, yawning estuaries. For centuries, life here has ebbed and flowed in tandem with the current of the Mekong – an all-in-one laundry, bathtub, highway, toilet, dishwasher, pantry, social club and workplace for the communities surrounded by its waters. “If you live on a river island with 20 other people, you have to learn to get along with everyone,” explains Bui Nguyen, beckoning strangers to shelter in her bungalow beside the Cai Chanh canal. “That’s the reason why people in the Mekong are so friendly!” A septuagenarian who attributes her longevity to a lifetime of avoiding doctors, Nguyen wistfully reflects on the delta of old, when the only artificial light came from peanut oil lamps dotted along the riverbanks, an age long before roads had reached the villages. Times have changed, but human life still instinctively congregates on the water’s edge. Lining the riverbank nearby are grocers’ shops, cafés, a gym, a billiards club and a blacksmith who makes kitchen utensils from helicopter parts left over from the Vietnam War. Floating markets, too, are still held every morning at nearby Cai Rang, with creaking barges from across the delta bashing into each other as they of-load cargoes of watermelons, pineapples and turnips. The rain eases, and the rhythm of delta life slowly begins to pick up pace: sampans cast free of their moorings, children arrive home from school on ferry boats, and mudskippers hop along the riverbanks. Heading downstream, the Mekong seems a place of Eden-like abundance. Rafts of water hyacinth drift along in the current, spinning in the eddies. Skirting the riverbank are shady papaya groves, banana trees bent double under the weight of their fruit, and palms that seem to bow deferentially to the boats that pass by. Swollen with rainwater, the river seems to quicken around a bend. The current tugs at boats tethered to shaky jetties, seemingly inviting them to join the river in its procession onward through the delta and into the sea.


Spending the night on board a boat on the Mekong River is a good way to explore more of the waterways that make up this incredible region and helps bring you closer to life on the river. Here are some options for overnighting on the Mekong: Bassac offers a range of beautiful wooden boats for small groups. The standard itinerary is an overnight between Cai Be and Can Tho, but custom routes are possible (overnight $9.10;

/ Top: a ferry crosses the Cai Chanh canal; above: Mekong River watermelons

EXO Travel has upmarket single or multiday tours of the delta by boat (overnight $190-$580; Le Cochinchine offers cruises on a luxurious converted rice barge and a traditional sampan that are akin to floating hotels (price on request; Mekong Eyes is a stunningly converted traditional rice barge that travels between Can Tho and Can Be. It’s also available for charter (price on request;

Winter 2015 Lonely Planet



Lonely Planet Magazine Winter 2015




Travel to the mountains of southern Germany to enter the kingdom of a most peculiar monarch, and to hear stories of fairy-tale castles and treasonous plotting. By Oliver Smith

Winter 2015 Lonely Planet Magazine


Previous page photograph: Shutterstock / canadastock, this page photograph: Andrew Montgomery



Build a magnificent castle Schloss Neuschwanstein (Neuschwanstein Castle)

ne winter’s day in the 1930s, a middle-aged American man with a bushy moustache and a winning smile set out on a strange mission in southern Bavaria. The Nazis had seized power in Germany, and Europe teetered on the brink of war, but all this had little to do with the American’s assignment. His car would have sped through wintry landscapes, past frosty fields and frozen lakes, before puttering up a winding road to the foot of the most remarkable castle on Earth: Neuschwanstein. The name of this man was Walter Disney. In him and all others who have seen it, Neuschwanstein is a building that awakens a childlike wonder, a castle seemingly borrowed from bedtime stories of brave knights and peril-prone maidens. Along the hill to the castle soon after sunrise, the silence is total but for the scrunch of snow compacting under foot. Hidden among the treetops, Neuschwanstein reveals its splendor by degrees on approach: stout battlements, a grand gatehouse and, finally, soaring towers that seem to outstretch the mountains rising behind them. Somewhere near here, Disney would have sketched the castle in his notebook. This would later become the emblem of his Walt Disney Company, and today Disney’s copy of Neuschwanstein has been rebuilt at Disney theme parks from Orlando to Hong Kong. Its design is still shorthand for singing animals and dancing teacups, magic spells and dreams come true. Yet the real king who built this castle has a story more remarkable than any Disney movie. “Mad” King Ludwig II of Bavaria was the 19th century’s Michael Jackson: a reclusive daydreamer who lived in his own make-believe world, nearly bankrupting himself by building fairy-tale castles and play-acting on the battlements. Partly brilliant, partly bonkers, Ludwig II flew in the face of Teutonic stereotypes of practicality, seriousness and fiscal responsibility. But, for his big heart and his even bigger imagination, he remains deeply loved today, a true German hero in a country often reminded of the villains from its past. Ludwig built many castles, but Neuschwanstein was

his bachelor pad par excellence – a mock medieval home inspired by myths of the Holy Grail. It afects visitors in strange and powerful ways. Guides tell of sets of keys stolen by Ludwig fans – and one man who climbed the scafolding into the castle under cover of night, set of the burglar alarm and, upon being found by security staf, requested an audience with the king. “We’ve not done any surveys, but we do know from security cameras that this is a very, um, ‘romantic’ place,” explains one guide who politely declines to be named. A long, echoing corridor leads to the Throne Hall, the king’s headquarters at the heart of the castle. Everywhere are grand colonnades and glittering gold-leaf paint, crystal chandeliers and celestial frescoes. It is a place of almost deranged lavishness: interior design turned up to 11. It is spectacular, surreal … but also rather silly. One mosaic depicts Christ in the heavens; another shows a grinning alligator going for a walk. Here and there are paintings of prancing knights that belong in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Neuschwanstein may look medieval, but work stopped here in 1892, long after lightbulbs, telephones and Coca-Cola had been invented. Dafter suggestions for Neuschwanstein were never realized: waterfalls that would cascade down the stairs of the castle, and (best of all) a steam-driven flying machine in the shape of a golden peacock that would see the king soaring above the countryside nearby. To Ludwig’s admirers, Neuschwanstein was the vision of a singularly powerful imagination. To his enemies, it was tacky in the extreme. What is indisputable, however, is the drama of Neuschwanstein’s setting. The castle overlooks the Alpsee – the lake where Ludwig first learned to swim, next to the castle of Hohenschwangau, built by his father. Along the banks are tall pines, their branches shaggy with freshly fallen snow, and, up above, mountains whose dark reflections quiver in the lake’s icy waters. It’s curious to imagine the young Ludwig II standing near this lake, telescope in hand, dreaming of a building that would one day be worthy of this magnificent landscape. More curious still is the place where he found his inspiration for the castle.


Indulge your musical side


Nationaltheater München (National Theater Munich)

ong ago, residents of Munich peeking out of their windows at bedtime would have witnessed a strange occurrence. Scurrying through the city’s cobbled streets would be opera singers and stagehands, musicians carrying tubas and cellos – all sworn to secrecy about what they were up to. Quietly, they would assemble at Munich’s National Theater. Instruments would be tuned, scenery pushed into position and, on the stroke of midnight, curtains opened for a grand performance to an empty auditorium. Empty, that is, but for the solitary figure of King Ludwig II, sitting at the back. Music is a deeply personal matter in Munich. While other German towns prided themselves on industry and commerce, Munich’s rulers instead modeled their city as a capital of culture, a “New Athens” where boulevards are still lined with grandiose galleries and statues of distinguished thinkers looking pensive. Munich’s pride and joy, however, is its opera house, a grand temple to music at the heart of the city. The scale of the operation becomes apparent during a backstage tour of the building. There are endless corridors cluttered with props, levers and snaking electrical cables; fire escapes where singers practice arpeggios; and staf cafeterias where musicians spill their food onto their scores. Just as Bavarians tend to do today, the young Ludwig adored music, but one composer captured his heart like no other. Like Ludwig, Richard Wagner was a character larger than life: a man with a fervent belief in his own great destiny. The two became friends. The king would be Wagner’s sponsor for the latter half of his career, and the German composer’s music became Ludwig’s all-consuming obsession. Bemused farmers would be enlisted as extras in recreations of Wagner’s operas at royal castles, Ludwig naturally taking the lead role. Swooning maidens would open letters from the handsome king, only to find him prattling on about his love of Wagner, and little else. It was an obsession inherited by other Bavarians. “To me, it is deeply special – almost sexual – music,” explains Andreas Friese, a guide at the opera house, sitting flanked by marble goddesses in the royal box. “I know of no other composer whose music goes from 0 to 100 straight away.” To his greatest admirers, Wagner’s music has a strange power that transcends its medium. Friese leaves the auditorium for another, quieter corner of the National Theater, where portraits of previous conductors hang on the wall. With hushed reverence, he points to two of these men who died in mysterious circumstances 50 years apart, both on this very stage, both conducting the tempestuous second act of Wagner’s masterpiece, Tristan and Isolde. Watching Wagner performed on that same stage today, one understands the efect this sublime music had on a ruler sick of petty politics and pointless ceremonies. Wagner’s is a language of thundering chords and steamrollering melodies, with stories of warring immortals, doomed lovers and (of course) extraordinary castles. It was likely to have been on this very stage that Ludwig found his inspiration for Neuschwanstein. The first blueprint for his castle was sketched not by an architect, but by a man who painted stage scenery for Wagner’s operas. “For Ludwig, I think Wagner’s music was a kind of release,” Friese contemplates. “I think it was an escape for him to a fantastical land.”


Lonely Planet Winter 2015

Not long after arriving in Munich, Wagner got too big for his boots. He meddled in politics, went on spending sprees funded by the king’s purse, and caused a scandal by eloping with a conductor’s wife. Political pressure from Ludwig’s ministers meant Wagner was eventually forced to leave for Switzerland. He would never return to Munich. The king, meanwhile, remained as popular as ever with his fellow Bavarians.


Be loved by your people



rom Munich, hills roll serenely southward before rocketing up into the giddy heights of the Bavarian Alps. It is scenery straight from The Sound of Music : red-roofed villages and onion-domed churches, lakes to skate on in winter and swim in come summer, and snowy mountains marching forth to the far corners of the country. In the midst of it all is the winter resort of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, where families clatter past, carrying skis, and where one rather well-dressed gentleman is taking a stroll. “The first time, I had to take a photo to the hairdresser and I got some funny looks,” explains Sepp Daser, stopping to wave to passing motorists honking their horns in deference. “Now I just ask for ‘The Ludwig’ and they know what to do.” An actor of stage and screen, Daser works part-time as a Ludwig II look-alike near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, applying a can’s worth of hairspray, slipping under a billowing blue cloak and making appearances at wedding receptions and black-tie dinners. Taking care not to get his cloak trapped in the door, Daser stops for cofee at a hotel, seating himself with a theatrical swoop. “It’s a wonderful feeling playing Ludwig. You always get a good reception,” he says, holding a black cofee in one gloved hand. “You have to play him with real emotion, but you never really know what’s going on inside his head.” Daser’s fondness for Ludwig is shared across Bavaria, a place where the king still serves as a figurehead for a distinct regional identity. Though now part of Germany, Bavaria was once a kingdom in its own right: locals consider themselves Bavarians first and Germans second. The philosophy of life here is one Ludwig would still recognize: pious living and humble manners, plentiful weissbier and slurred sing-alongs, chopped logs and leather trousers. Just as Bavarians loved their king, Ludwig loved his people. He had a lodge on a hilltop near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, and sometimes he would walk alone in the mountains, dropping by peasants’ houses unannounced for tea. Other times he might be spotted whooshing past on a horse-drawn sleigh stacked full of presents for his subjects. There is, however, a limit to Daser’s dedication to his character. By middle age, Ludwig’s teeth were falling out. He was so fat that few horses would tolerate his weight. “I’m 47 now,” Daser says, laughing grimly. “By my age, King Ludwig was dead.”

Sepp Daser, an actor, dressed as the king

Andrea Friese, a guide at the opera house

The auditorium prior to a performance

Photos (clockwise from top left): Shutterstock / grafalex; Andrew Montgomery

The facade of Munich’s National Theater, a favorite spot of King Ludwig II, who took in shows in solitude

Winter 2015 Lonely Planet




Die a strange and mysterious death

Photo: Andrew Montgomery


Der Starnberger See (Lake Starnberg)

udwig’s tale has an unhappy ending. In the third year of the king’s reign, Bavaria sufered defeat to Prussia in the Austro-Prussian War. After some years of diplomatic wrangling, Prussia eventually persuaded Bavaria to become part of the newly formed German Empire. The ancestor of today’s Germany, this empire soon became a modern, industrialized state of railroads and factories, a place quite unlike Ludwig’s sleepy, pastoral kingdom of old. With his power waning and the world around him in flux, Ludwig’s way of clinging on to the certainties of the past was to build more and more castles. It would prove a dangerous addiction. First of there was Linderhof, a miniature palace where the king would wake to see cherubs blaring trumpets above his bed, and frescoes of mythical warriors riding chariots around the ceiling. At his leisure, the king would explore the palace’s peculiar outbuildings, including an artificial underground lake, around which he would sail in a boat shaped like a golden swan. The most expensive of Ludwig’s palaces was Herrenchiemsee, a lavish replica of Versailles, where he could saunter along a hall of mirrors and pretend to be his hero: King Louis XIV of France. The strangest contraption there was a dining table that, with a yank of a lever, would pop out of a trapdoor in the floor, freshly laid with the king’s supper. Predictably, the money soon ran out. Ambitious plans for a bizarre Chinese temple and Byzantine fortress never made it past the drawing board. Herrenchiemsee and Neuschwanstein remain unfinished today. In both palaces, you can step from magnificently ornate chambers straight into bare brick, mustysmelling rooms full of cobwebs. Ludwig’s behavior, like his castles, became ever more eccentric. He lived nocturnally, seen only as a silhouette in his castle windows. People began to gossip that he had gone mad. Stories circulated of him hosting dinner parties for his favorite horse and holding conversations (often in French) with historical figures in empty rooms. Ludwig’s life ended tragically at Lake Starnberg, a large, reedy stretch of water a few miles south of Munich. From the village of Berg, a trail leads through some woods to the shore. In the vanishing afternoon light, the lake is a scene of perfect calm. Little waves lap gently against a pebbly beach, and a chilly wind sways the trees, knocking chunks of snow of the boughs and sending them fluttering to the forest floor. In 1886, Bavarian politicians decided that Ludwig was unfit to rule; the king and his fairy-tale castles had become a national embarrassment. In the politicians’ eyes, it didn’t help that Ludwig was almost certainly gay. They hatched a plan to depose Ludwig by declaring him clinically insane, and captured him at Neuschwanstein just as he threatened to throw himself from its tallest tower. Ludwig was brought to a royal residence on the shore of Lake Starnberg, where the following day he took a lakeside stroll with his new psychiatrist. Today, a simple wooden cross marks the spot where the bodies of Ludwig and his psychiatrist were found floating in the water, next to a sign that reads “No swimming.” Every so often, dog walkers pause beside it, perhaps out of curiosity, perhaps in quiet respect. Ludwig was dead. The ofcial verdict was suicide.

Make sure your legend never dies, and build another castle


Schloss Falkenstein (Falkenstein Castle)

ut there might have been a diferent ending. A few miles west of Neuschwanstein, a nondescript road zigzags its way to the top of a small, steep mountain. A blizzard blows outside – a raging wind that sends snowflakes lurching one way and then another, flitting back and forth like schools of fish. Along the road, the view is obscured in the blizzard; trees lurch of out the whiteness ahead, before vanishing again in the car’s rear-view mirror. Ludwig built this road as a driveway to his last and greatest castle. Falkenstein would be the highest fortress in Germany: a cluster of dark, pointy towers set atop an almost vertical pulpit of rock. Built on the site of a real 13th-century castle, it would be a miracle of construction to surpass all others – even Neuschwanstein. There is one small problem. It doesn’t exist. Ludwig died before work on Falkenstein could begin. Ludwig’s death is Germany’s equivalent of the JFK assassination; it’s a puzzle that still turns academics gray, and which sometimes sees conspiracy theories debated in parliament. Although authorities claimed the king had drowned, no water was found in his lungs. Some speculate Ludwig and his psychiatrist sufered simultaneous heart attacks. But to the king’s followers, something doesn’t quite add up. Ludwig was eccentric, though never insane. He had become too popular among his people and too disliked by politicians. His death meant only one thing: murder. “Ludwig wasn’t an easy person but he was certainly not suicidal,” says Joachim Zeune, a soft-spoken historian with a snowy white beard, who has been studying castles ever since he played with plastic knights as a child. At a restaurant at the top of the mountain, Zeune leafs through Ludwig’s designs for Falkenstein, stopping to sip on piping-hot soup as the snow settles on the windowsill. Strangely, there were to be no bedrooms in Falkenstein castle – only one gloomy hall where the old king would sleep on a bed with the dimensions of a double-decker bus, set beneath a ceiling painted with twinkling stars. “I think Ludwig intended Falkenstein as his mausoleum,” Zeune says quietly. “This castle was his last resort – a remote place where he could be above the world and all his problems would be far below him.” A flight of stone steps leads up to the pinnacle of the rock and to the ruined 13th-century castle that Ludwig had planned to demolish, still standing today. After a while the blizzard relents at the summit, and the clouds scatter to reveal what was once Ludwig’s kingdom: little villages far below, and pastures smothered in smooth, downy snow. Only just visible to the east is the outline of Neuschwanstein rising above the trees – one man’s daydream, preserved forever in stone and mortar. Ludwig may be gone, but his legacy shines as brightly as ever in his homeland. He has been immortalized in films, musicals and computer games. The music he supported is now loved around the world. The castles that gave his accountants panic attacks have paid for themselves several times over in entrance tickets. To millions today, Neuschwanstein appears just as it did to Ludwig himself: a relic from another, nobler world, a kind of never-never land where every man could be a hero, and every story ended happily ever after.

CRUISE CANYON COUNTRY Towering red rock spires, deep canyons, majestic monoliths: Utah harbors some of the most extraordinary landforms on Earth. Experience the best of the West on a road trip through three national parks in Southern Utah. by Rory Goulding

Winter 2015W.Lonely Magazine Photos 90 Photo: Brown CannonPlanet III / Intersection

Winter 2015 Lonely Planet Magazine



EVEN IF YOU CLOSE YOUR EYES, Zion National Park overawes with the names of its mountains and valleys: the Court of the Patriarchs, Tabernacle Dome, the Organ, the Pulpit and the Great White Throne. Mount Moroni bears the name of the angel who Mormons believe appeared to the founder of their church in the 1820s, and the area’s native religions also get a look-in with the Temple of Sinawava, named for the Paiute Indians’ coyote god, known as a trickster by Native Americans. One test of faith that many visitors are willing to submit themselves to at Zion, Utah’s most visited park, is the trail to the top of Angels Landing. This is one of the world’s most famous hikes. A rocky spine just a few feet wide in some parts with a 1,300-foot drop on either side, the trail climbs to the summit of a tower of red rock. Angels Landing stands at the center of the deep and forested Zion Canyon, embraced

Photo: Brown W. Cannon III / Intersection Photos

by a sweeping curve of the Virgin River, and in the absence of angelic onward transportation, the only way back is the same knifeedge path. It isn’t necessary, however, to leave the valley floor to sense why Mormon pioneers and other explorers were moved to such grandiloquence in the names they scattered around the park. Zion is the midway point on a descent through geological time known as the Grand Staircase. Bryce Canyon, 40 miles to the northeast, is the top step: its rocks are less than 60 million years young. The Grand Canyon, 60 miles to the south and into Arizona, cuts into the Vishnu Schist at its base, laid down 2 billion years ago. Many corners of Zion are rightly out of human reach, though bighorn sheep and mountain lions might tread there. Endangered California condors are sometimes seen soaring above the peaks. Only they know Zion’s true extent.

GETTING THERE Zion National Park is located on State Route 9 in the attractive town of Springdale, Utah (the southern entrance to the park). A seven-day pass for one vehicle and all occupants is $30 ( Parking areas usually fll up by 10 a.m.; to avoid parking hassles, park in Springdale and ride the free shuttle to the park’s pedestrian entrance. The Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is closed to private vehicles from April through October 25; a free shuttle bus travels the route through October 25 and on November weekends. You can drive yourself along Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway, Kolob Canyons Road and Kolob Terrace Road. There are three campgrounds in the park (one free, others from $16).


Winter 2015 Lonely Planet




Photo: Philip Lee Harvey

ACCORDING TO THE TALES OF THE PAIUTE PEOPLE OF UTAH, long ago there lived the Towhen-an-ung-wa, or Legend People, who were animals of all kinds with the power to take on human form. They were arrogant and misused the land, so in punishment, the coyote god turned them all to stone. They still stand in their thousands at Bryce Canyon National Park, as the totem-pole-like rock formations known as hoodoos. The concentration of sunset-colored hoodoos creates a mesmerizing efect, as often happens when a shape is repeated everywhere the eye turns. At just 20 miles long, Bryce Canyon is one of America’s smallest national parks; it’s not so much a canyon as the eastern edge of a great plateau, nibbled into a series of amphitheaters at a rate of about 3 feet every hundred years, through layers of limestone, siltstone and mudstone that give the hoodoos their segmented appearance.

Snow is frequent here, at an elevation of 7,894 feet, and cycles of freezing contribute to the slow fading of the Legend People. In this landscape, just leaving a footpath to stand at the base of a hoodoo is enough to shorten its lifespan. Not that stepping of a marked trail is a great idea anyway in the bewildering assemblies of tall, skinny spires of rock such as the Silent City or the Queen’s Garden, the latter presided over by a white hoodoo known as Queen Victoria. From the right vantage point, it’s really possible to imagine the monarch, on a royal visit to the park, caught in her crinoline and veil by a sudden mudslide. The Scottish-born Mormon pioneer Ebenezer Bryce, who gave his name to the canyon in the late 1870s, called it “a hell of a place to lose a cow.” Only the park’s prairie dogs are oblivious to the maze of hoodoos, creating underground labyrinths of their own.

GETTING THERE Park gateway Bryce Canyon City is about a two-hour drive from Springdale, Utah, and Zion National Park via I-15, state Route 9, U.S. Highway 89, and state Routes 12 and 63. A seven-day park vehicle permit costs $30 ( /brca), although visitors are encouraged to leave their cars in Bryce Canyon City and take a shuttle bus into the park (free with the permit). The park has two campgrounds (from $20 per night). For hotel accommodations in the park, Bryce Canyon City and the nearby small town of Tropic, see for a longer list.

Winter 2015 Lonely Planet



THE LARGEST OF UTAH’S NATIONAL PARKS is also its least visited. At the park’s center, the Green River fows into the Colorado River, dividing the park in a Y-shape with tortuous canyons unspanned by any bridge. With the detached enclave of Horseshoe Canyon of to the west, Canyonlands often feels like four separate national parks. The northern and most easily accessible part of the park, between the two rivers, is called the Island in the Sky; it’s a mesa around 12 miles long, branching of in dozens of spindly fngers. At one fngertip is Upheaval Dome, where jagged rocks at the center of a circular void may be evidence of a meteorite strike 60 million years ago. On one of the eastern cliftops, Mesa Arch frames a view over valleys and sculpted rocks leading down to the recesses of the

Colorado River. The Grand View Point overlook at the end of the Island in the Sky is only 9 miles as the crow fies from the Needles in the southern section of the park, but 125 miles and three hours by car. Instead of imposing mesas, the scenery here is more troglodytic, with crowds of hoodoos: columns of worn-down rock capped with more sturdy boulders that protect them. Both here and at Horseshoe Canyon are found the remains of cultures that existed here before the Spanish and “Anglo” settlers arrived, from a stone granary built by Puebloan peoples to ochre-colored rock art depicting ancient humans and the animals they hunted. The life-size fgures in the Great Gallery at Horseshoe Canyon may be up to 4,000 years old.

GETTING THERE Traveling from Bryce Canyon National Park, it’s about a fourhour drive to the Island in the Sky district of Canyonlands (40 minutes southwest of Moab), via I-70/U.S. Highway 89, U.S. 191 and state Route 313. For a more scenic drive, take state Routes 12 and 24, linking up with I-70, U.S. 191 and state Route 313 (it will take about 5½ hours). From Island in the Sky, it’s a little over 2½ hours to the Needles District, south from Moab via U.S. 191 and Utah 211. Canyonlands’ western Maze section isn’t recommended except to experienced 4x4 drivers, while Horseshoe Canyon can be visited with rangers for Saturday hikes in the spring and fall. A seven-day vehicle pass is $10 ( Camping in the park costs from $10.

Photo: Philip Lee Harvey


Winter 2015 Lonely Planet


Take a detour along SCENIC


Many travelers in southern Utah make it as far as Bryce Canyon, perhaps taking a drive or a shuttle ride through the national park. But there’s much more to see and do in this area. Starting at Bryce Canyon, travel east on Scenic Byway 12 (aka state Route 12), a 124-mile route between Bryce and Capitol Reef National Parks, and explore some of our favorite stops along the way: 1. Willis Creek Canyon: It’s a good idea to take a guide to this walkable slot canyon hike off an unmarked path at the Grand Staircase -Escalante National Monument. Bryce Valley Tours offers personalized excursions (from $75 per person; brycevalleytours .com).





2. Wide Hollow Reservoir: If you find you need to cool off, pull off to Wide Hollow Reservoir, a large, blissfully cool body of water. It will be significantly less populated here than at the other side of the reservoir.

3. Kiva Koffeehouse: Kiva Koffeehouse, in Escalante at mile marker 73.86, is popular as much for its views as for its coffee. Rooms can be rented at the Kiva Kottage down the lane (rooms from $190;



Lonely Planet Winter 2015

5. Hell’s Backbone Grill: Stop at Hell’s Backbone Grill for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The farm-to-fork restaurant serves produce from its own garden, and the meat is local (dinner entrees from $18;

Illustration by Patrick Hruby

4. Calf Creek Falls: The family friendly hike to the chilly waters of 126-foothigh Lower Calf Creek Falls is 5½ miles round-trip. The hike to Upper Calf Creek Falls is shorter but more arduous (


Take an island-hopping journey through Hawaii, sampling eclectic cuisine and experiencing nature’s diversity at its most divine, from fiery volcanoes to hidden rainforest waterfalls to spectacular sunsets. BY RORY GOULDING PHOTOGRAPHS BY MATT MUNRO

oahu ahu

food & surfing on

Settle into Hawaiian time among wave riders and a feast of dishes from around the Pacific Rim













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The surfers start early at Waikiki Beach. As first light erupts behind the old, spent volcanic cone of Diamond Head, a few hopefuls paddle out on their boards a half-mile to reach the break. Conditions are gentle today; the surf here rarely matches the roller-coaster waves of Oahu’s fabled North Shore. But Waikiki Beach in Honolulu is as close to a spiritual home as can be for this one-time sport of Hawaiian kings, and the islands’ most far-reaching gift to the world. Waikiki’s stirring to life is a sight to reward jet-lagged new arrivals to Oahu, the island that is home to two-thirds of Hawaii’s 1.4 million people. From Honolulu, you have to cross almost 2,400 miles of open ocean to reach the closest population center of any great size (San Francisco), making the Hawaiian capital by this measure the most remote city in the world. And yet for centuries people have come here from all corners of the Pacific and beyond. First – and most impressively, given they were heading into the unknown in wooden voyaging canoes – were the Polynesians. But all around Oahu and on the “neighbor islands,” later arrivals contributed to a mix unlike any other in the 50 states. Sometimes it shows in the architecture: Honolulu bus stops have roofs like miniature Japanese Shinto shrines, and there is a copy of Buddhist temple Byodo-in across the mountains.


Lonely Planet Winter 2015

ESSENTIALS Step off the quieter half of Waikiki Beach and into the Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort. Rooms are decorated with prints of reef life, and the best have 180-degree ocean views; the hotel has two restaurants (from $207; outrigger The Pig and the Lady is open for lunch and dinner, except Sundays and Monday evenings (main courses from $13; thepigandthe

It’s even easier to experience this isolated-cosmopolitan culture in the food. From Asia come such “only in Hawaii” dishes as saimin, a local take on ramen noodles, and the humble Spam musubi, the canned meat transformed with a teriyaki glaze and served atop sushi rice. Then there is the malasada, a holefree doughnut of Portuguese origin that often conceals tropical fillings such as coconut or pineapple. Leonard’s Bakery (, inland from Waikiki, has been serving these since 1952. Many felt by the 1980s that the local food scene was not making the most of its potential. In 1991, a group of top chefs got together to launch a manifesto they called Hawaii Regional Cuisine, aiming to create a fine-dining counterpart to the everyday Hawaiian “plate lunch.” And while Hawaii is not alone in its recent enthusiasm for using more locally sourced ingredients, it was a particularly stark anomaly that these islands imported the vast bulk of their food when they have such agricultural promise. Before the first Westerners and their fleets came here at the end of the 18th century, the taro plant was Hawaii’s

staple crop. “It was considered to be the elder brother to humans in the traditional genealogy,” says Liko Hoe, a Hawaiian studies lecturer who also runs a 110-year-old poi business. Poi is the lilacgray, mildly sweet-sour paste made from taro root that is a mainstay of the luau, the celebratory Hawaiian feast. Hoe serves poi and other Hawaiian favorites at the wooden roadside counter of the Waiahole Poi Factory (, in a stretch of rural Oahu. Back in Honolulu, on Chinatown’s main street, The Pig and the Lady has made the conversion from pop-up eatery to exposed-brick-andmortar restaurant. Its head chef and owner, Andrew Le, once worked at one of the flagships of Hawaii Regional Cuisine, Honolulu’s Chef Mavro. Hawaiian beef brisket appears in Le’s reinterpretations of Vietnamese classics such as pho noodles and the banh mi sandwich, and Oahu taro and heirloom tomatoes are among his other favorite ingredients. “You can grow pretty much any-thing in these islands,” he says. “If you’re not taking advantage of it, you’re doing it wrong.”

great escape “ It’s even easier to experience this isolatedcosmopolitan culture in the food. ”

Clockwise, from top left: Waikiki Beach; at the Waiahole Poi Factory (clockwise from back), laulau pork, rice, lomi lomi (salmon and tomatoes) and kalua pork; surfers at Waikiki Beach, with volcanic crater Diamond Head in the background; “pho-sta,” a pasta dish with pho-braised beef, and a tropical cocktail, at The Pig and the Lady

The plunging valley walls and knife-edge ridges of the Na Pali coast, on the northwest side of the island of Kauai, show what erosive wonders a bit of water can

Sea cave on Na Pali coast

work over 5 million years.

nature on

kauai Wild landscapes cover most of Hawaii’s “Garden Isle” – the only question is, how best to get close to them?












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“Wait – are those really goats?” says the girl to her hiking companions, as they take in the scene from the viewpoint at the end of the Awaawapuhi Trail. Midway up the opposite clif face, on the far side of a stomach-numbing chasm, there truly is a pair of nimble hoofed-and-horned climbers for whom gravity appears optional. The plunging valley walls and knife-edge ridges of the Na Pali coast, on the northwest side of the island of Kauai, show what erosive wonders a bit of water can work over 5 million years. Or, in parts, a lot of water. Mount Waialeale, in the center of the island, counts as one of the rainiest places on Earth, outranked only by a few soggy hill villages in northeastern India. But only a fraction of that rain makes it the dozen miles past the peak to fall on the small coastal town of Waimea, where red earth pokes through the roadside scrub, and “dirt shirts” dyed with this ruddy-colored soil are a souvenir stand mainstay. The goats shouldn’t really be in Kauai. And neither should the banana passion fruit plant, with its striking pink flowers, that’s sprung up near the start of the Awaawapuhi Trail. Humans are not the only species to have fallen hopelessly in love with Hawaii: its diverse ecosystems must do battle against a host of plant and animal invaders, however beautiful or endearing. Hawaii’s endemic but often endangered species are true miracles of nature. These islands were born out of the ocean, miles from anywhere, and settled by lucky arrivals: a few seeds blown far on the wind, perhaps, or a tiny snail clinging to a seabird’s leg. It’s thought that before humans

ESSENTIALS Kick back on your own shady lanai at Waimea Plantation Cottages, a good base for drives along Waimea Canyon to northwest Kauai. There is a pool plus the attached Kalapaki Joe’s restaurant ( (from $210; coast Kokee State Park lies beyond Waimea Canyon State Park at the end of Highway 550. Both are free to enter. You can find information on area hikes, including the Awaawapuhi Trail, at Jack Harter Helicopters offers tours from beside Lihue airport (one-hour tour $289 per person;

rusting away.” That’s the introduction given by helicopter pilot Harry Price, who knows the island’s contours more intimately than most. An hour’s flight takes him and his passengers soaring over ridgelines and down into deep valleys, many unreached even by the roughest of trails. He passes the waterfall seen early on in Jurassic Park, and also the mist-shrouded wilderness of the Alakai Swamp. Along the Na Pali coast, Price spots a halfdozen spinner dolphins playing around the sightseeing boats. Water trickles down the green clifs in long ribbons. “They don’t count them as waterfalls if they don’t part company with the rock face,” Price says. Kauai can aford to be picky when it comes to waterfalls. Finally, Price steers up the steepsided valley that slices into Mount Waialeale. As the aircraft ventures deeper into the mountains, the air grows cooler and wetter. The valley ends in a semicircle of water-streaked clifs, called the Wall of Tears, with a lid of cloud fixed almost permanently above. We have reached the secret heart of the island.

Winter 2015 Lonely Planet

great escape


sped up the process, just one new plant or animal species made it here every 30,000 years. The ohia lehua tree, with its brushlike red blossoms, is a common native plant. It shares the forest that shades most of the 3.2-mile length of the Awaawapuhi Trail with the likes of silver-barked koa trees and the mokihana shrub, whose anise-scented leaves and berries make a prized variety of lei. The forest, like the trail, inches as close to the Na Pali clifs as it can before coming to an abrupt halt. Beyond the viewpoint, perched on a spur between two valleys, the sea and sky merge at the horizon. Other prize views can be had without much sweat. State Route 550 runs along the western edge of the monumental Waimea Canyon, before reaching two lookouts perched above the Kalalau Valley. The weather plays a fickle game here: blank mist one minute, then the big reveal. To truly appreciate the life’s work of Kauai’s watercourses, however, nothing can match an aerial view. “Kauai’s kinda like an old car, just falling apart and


road trip across

maui Follow the winding

coastal highway to discover the contrast of Maui’s sunrise and sunset coasts













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Pace yourself. That’s the best advice for anyone setting of on the Road to Hana. It’s only a 50-mile drive from busy Kahului near the center of Maui to the small town of Hana at the island’s eastern tip, but there’s no sense in going “wikiwiki” (quickly). State Route 360, variously known as the Road to Hana or Hana Highway, is a compromise between man and nature. It runs along the northeastern coast, the one that gets first dibs on any rain clouds headed Maui’s way, and therefore is the most impressively overgrown and stream-gouged side of the island. In the early 20th century, the ancient coastal footpaths of the native Hawaiians were remodeled into a narrow highway by road builders who must surely have moonlighted as circus contortionists, judging by the hairpin bends they laid out. Yet the road does not dominate the landscape. It hugs rock walls soft with moss and ferns, and vines trail overhead where it ducks into forest. Highway 360 comes into its own just after the twelfth mile marker, where it zigzags down to Honomanu Bay and back up again. An optional excursion nearby descends to the Keanae Peninsula, where a small community tends to taro fields. Other worthwhile stops include Coconut Glen’s stand, just after mile-marker 27, for a scoop of superlative coconut ice cream; any of the innumerable waterfalls that drop close to the road; and the seaside Kahanu Garden, with its collection of “canoe plants” brought over by Polynesian settlers.


Lonely Planet Winter 2015

ESSENTIALS Hotel Wailea, near Makena’s beaches, is spread around hillside grounds set with rock gardens and waterfalls; a shuttle takes guests to the beach (from $432; Hotel Wailea is an easier drive from Kahului airport than the Hana area is, but it’s worth overnighting in Hana if you can. Hana has a small selection of accomommodations, including the Hana Kai Maui condo complex (from $265; hanakaimaui .com) and the low-key luxury rooms and cottages at Travaasa Hana (from $480;

With so many wayside distractions, not to mention all those one-lane bridges and 15-mph stretches, it’s better not to drive the Road to Hana (and back) as a day trip, as most visitors do. And Hana itself is worth lingering in. With only one discreet resort hotel, East Maui has kept tourism small-scale, especially along its beaches of golden, black and even red sand. As the road curls west again beyond Hana, past gardens marked out with neat lava rock walls, development tails of further still. It’s at this point that the Ono Organic fruit stand ( materializes on the right, announced by an improvised surfboard sign. Melanie Holmes and Duncan Hardee, transplants from Chicago and North Carolina, are stacking mangoes, papayas, pineapples, jackfruit and lychees on a table. “All of these are seasonal,” Holmes says. “But in Hawaii it’s pretty much a state of permanent summer. Papayas are always going, and with avocados for example, there are so many diferent varieties that there’s always one in season.” The last stop on the

road that most visitors see is Oheo Gulch, a sequence of stream-fed ponds popularly known as the Seven Sacred Pools (there are actually 24). Beyond Kipahulu, part of Maui’s Haleakala National Park, the road surface degrades to patched-up asphalt and gravel for 10 miles. Those who are prepared to continue on this southern route around Maui, known as the Piilani Highway, discover a wondrous contrast to the jungle-clad north coast. Beyond the half-forgotten settlement of Kaupo, with its whitewashed churches redolent of an earlier Hawaii, the road regains a smooth surface for a journey through a dozen miles of uninhabited country that at times suggests the East African savanna, at others the Scottish Highlands. Whichever road is taken, it makes sense to finish before dusk. Back on Maui’s southwest coast, the last beachgoers at Makena’s “Big Beach” are gathered for sunset. Some local boys use the waves to leap into the air on their surfboards, laughing of the inevitable awkward splashdowns. East, west, north or south, Maui’s faces are more varied than any Hawaiian island, except the biggest one of all.

great escape “ Hana itself is worth lingering in. East Maui has kept tourism small-scale, especially along its beaches of golden, black and even red sand.� Clockwise, from top left: cliff jumpers and swimmers at Waioka Pond, south of Hana; Oheo Gulch, in Haleakala National Park; a view of Honomanu Bay from Kalaloa Point, along the Hana Highway; Melanie Holmes and Duncan Hardee at the Ono Organic fruit stand

Winter 2015 Lonely Planet



Lonely Planet Winter 2015

great escape

volcanoes on

ha ai hawaii

Look down on the clouds from the islands’ highest point and come face-to-face with Hawaii’s most

(The Big Island)

active volcano













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Hilo, the main city on the island of Hawaii (often known simply as the Big Island, to distinguish it from the wider state of Hawaii), is a picture of low-rise tropical ease. Everyone seems relaxed about the fact that just over 20 miles south of here lies an active volcano. Kilauea has been erupting continuously since 1983, and Hawaiian volcanoes seem almost neighborly compared with many of their kin around the Pacific. The typical Hawaiian eruption involves runny lava instead of cataclysmic ash clouds. The Big Island is larger than all the other Hawaiian islands combined. It is also the only one that’s growing. Kilauea’s 32-year eruption has created around 500 acres of new land, and also covered over a fair amount of what existed already. The volcano is the undoubted star of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, which marks its 100th birthday in 2016, along with the National Park Service as a whole. The park is another puzzling patchwork of Hawaiian microclimates: barren, Mordor-like wastes give way in barely a mile to gullies filled with tall ferns and the sort of forest that looks like it should shelter giant insects seen in B movies. In 2008, Halemaumau Crater, the largest of Kilauea’s multiple vents, rumbled back into life after more than two decades of slumber, forcing the closure of the downwind portion of the crater rim drive. Today, visitors gather at dusk on the terrace of the Jaggar Museum to look into this vast pit, which ancient Hawaiians believed was the home of the goddess Pele. As the light in the sky dwindles, the glow from the bowels of the


Lonely Planet Winter 2015

ESSENTIALS The Hilo Hawaiian curves around a small cove off to the side of Hilo Bay, with a footbridge leading over to the tiny, palm-lined Coconut Island. Rooms in warm hues have small balconies overlooking this scene or the banyan trees in Liliuokalani Park (from $200; castleresorts .com). For easier nighttime volcano viewing, stay at Volcano House, a lodge inside the national park (from $285; hawaii Hawaii Volcanoes National Park tickets are good for unlimited entry over seven days ($15 per vehicle; nps .gov/havo).

Earth grows brighter, lighting up the plumes of steam and gases that escape from the crater – dusky pink at first, then livid orange. It’s hard to imagine the volcano as anything other than a living presence. All of Hawaii’s volcanoes have been fueled by the same hotspot, which the Pacific Plate has crept over for at least 80 million years. The result is a chain of progressively worndown islands, reefs and undersea pinnacles stretching over 3,700 miles, as far as Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula. In the 500,000 years the hotspot has been feeding the Big Island, it has created the Earth’s tallest single mountain: Mauna Kea. Its summit is 13,796 feet above sea level, but more than 29,527 feet from the ocean floor. The peak is home to some of the world’s most important observatories. A solitary road snakes up through the clouds, past a desolate landscape of cinder cones dotted with endan-

gered silversword plants and patches of snow. Sightseers shiver in their parkas while waiting to catch the sunset before heading halfway back down the mountain – as all but the scientists must do after dark – to watch the night sky sparkle into life. Mauna Kea hasn’t erupted in more than 4,000 years, and if it does again, all those scientific instruments atop it should give plenty of warning. The future of the islands lies instead back in the national park, at the end of the Chain of Craters Road. A short path leads from the end of the road, past some enterprising, emerald-leaved naupaka plants, to a sea arch jutting out from the sheer lava clifs. Just 20 miles ahead, out into the ocean, an underwater volcano is slowly building toward the surface. It already has a name: Loihi. If it continues to grow, sometime in the next 10,000 to 100,000 years the newest Hawaiian island will be born.

great escape

Clockwise, from left: steam and volcanic gases lit up by the lava lake in Halemaumau Crater in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park; Holei Sea Arch at the national park, from the Chain of Craters road; a view of the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope from the summit of Mauna Kea

“ It’s hard to imagine the volcano as anything other than a living presence. ”

Winter 2015 Lonely Planet


GETTING THERE Flight time from LA




Oahu: Honolulu Intl. Airport





ON LAND Oahu and the Honolulu area have an extensive public bus network ( The major car rental firms have offices at all island airports featured here.

By Ferry: from Maui to Molokai & Lanai

Map by Josie Portillo

Big Island Kona Intl. Airport Hilo Intl. Airport

Hawaiian Airlines & Ohana by Hawaiian fly to


Kauai Lihue Airport

By Plane:


Maui Kahului Airport



Lonely Planet Winter 2015

Kia ora, friends

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mini guides 6 TEAR OUT

The noble art of skijoring in Les Trois Vallées resort of Courchevel

Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate, aka “The Bean,” in Chicago’s Millennium Park

Shibuya crossing at a quiet time




Budget Tokyo

Museums of Chicago

Savoy Winter Activities

In Chicago, whimsical public art studs the street, and museums invite you to explore everything from a Monet masterpiece to colossal dinosaurs and outer space.

Visit the northern French Alps, a landscape of glassy lakes, dense forests and epic peaks – including the mighty Mont Blanc – for some of Europe’s best skiing and other snow-driven pursuits.

While Tokyo usually ranks among the world’s most expensive cities, many of its top sights cost nothing to visit. Immerse yourself in traditional Japanese culture and taste the city’s sushi and yakitori without spending a fortune.

Strolling in War Memorial Gardens

Reykjavík is the world’s most northerly capital.

The Blue Mosque is one of the jewels of Ottoman architecture.




Hidden Corners of Dublin

Excursions from Reykjavík

Historic Istanbul

Famed for its Viking history and high-energy nightlife, Iceland’s capital is the perfect pit stop for a range of activities, from spotting puffns to taking in one of the world’s best dive sites.

Turkey’s largest city – where Europe meets Asia – has long played host to history on an epic scale. From Byzantine churches to Ottoman palaces, its wellpreserved heritage is very present .

Wander off Grafton Street and away from Temple Bar to fnd neighborhoods full of intriguing historic sites and favorite local spots.

Brussels Brusselsand andWallonia Wallonia

C’est C’est Magnifi Magnifique! que!


Brussels - Wallonia

© WBT/J.P Remy

© WBT/G. Batistini

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Eating & Drinking YANAKA GINZA

This cluttered cluster of street stalls in the village-y Yanaka district is vintage mid-1900s Tokyo. There’s a variety of cheap takeaway eats on offer, from yakitori (grilled chicken skewers) to menchi katsu (minced beef croquettes). Settle yourself on a milk crate with the locals and wash it all down with a beer (snacks from about $1; access from Nippori or Sendagi Stations).

Shibuya crossing at a quiet time



Budget Tokyo While Tokyo usually ranks among the world’s most expensive cities, many of its top sights cost nothing to visit. Immerse yourself in traditional Japanese culture and taste the city’s sushi and yakitori without spending a fortune.


Tear out page here then fold along dotted lines


This Shinto shrine, Tokyo’s largest and most famous, is located within 2.5 acres of forested grounds. Meiji Jingu is a place of rituals: every day at 8am and 2pm a priest strikes a large drum as part of an offering to the deities enshrined here. To perform your own, drop a fve-yen coin into the offering box, bow twice, clap your hands twice, make a wish, then bow again (; Shibuya-ku; dawn-dusk; free).


There’s usually a long line at the Shibuya branch of this chain, but don’t let the wait put you off; service is quick and the generous sushi sets are good value. The 12-piece sushi lunch special is ideal for trying a bit of everything. From inside Shibuya Station (but outside the ticket gates) look for signs to the Mark City complex (; Shibuya-ku, Dogenzaka 1-12-3, Mark City 4th foor; 11am–9:30pm; sets from $14).


Sights This is the Tokyo of the movies: the frenetic pace, the mind-boggling crowds, the twinkling neon lights and the giant video screens beaming larger-than-life celebrities over the streets. At the famous scramble crossing outside Shibuya Station, all of this comes together every time the lights change. It’s an awesome sight and a photo opportunity, especially on Friday and Saturday evenings.

Ensconce yourself in your horikotatsu (low table with hollowed-out space for your legs) or on a log bench while staff grill yakitori and other skewer dishes over hearths set into your table. This izakaya (pub) is a great place to observe local salarymen and the odd actor from the theater down the street (Minato-ku, Akasaka 2-14-1, Sannoukaikan Bldg. 4th foor; lunch Mon–Fri, dinner Mon–Sat; dishes from $4.50).

The aroma of yakitori pervades Yanaka Ginza and similar streets.

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Meiji Jingu was built in 1920 in memory of the Emperor Meiji. TSUKIJI FISH MARKET

Visit the world’s largest fsh market while you can, because the wholesale market will move to a new facility across Tokyo Bay in November 2016. It’s at its busiest early in the morning, and the 120 tourist passes to watch the famous 5am tuna auction go quickly. Rules for visitors change occasionally, so check the website for current details (; Chuo-ku, Tsukiji 5-2-1; closed Sun and most Wed; free entry).

Japan’s beloved onsen (hot spring baths) exist even in the capital, and have long offered an essential escape. In the historic, working-class Asakusa district, Jakotsu-yu shimmers with serene Mount Fuji artwork. Once you’ve cooked in the indoor bath, you’re ready for the lovely, lantern-lit outdoor bath (; Taito -ku, Asakusa 1-11-11; 1pm midnight, closed Tue; admission $3.80). ROPPONGI

One of Tokyo’s most impressive public spaces, the Roppongi Hills development is dotted with openair art such as Louise Bourgeois’ giant metal spider Maman, and sculptural benches along Keyakizaka- dori. If you have yen to spend, choose from a trio of world- class art museums: the National Art Center Tokyo ($9), the Suntory Museum of Art ($11) or the Mori Art Museum ($12.30).

Maman, by Louise Bourgeois, alongside the Mori Tower KABUKI

Highly nuanced and intensely visual, Japan’s iconic performing arts form blossomed during the 18th century, and an afternoon at the theater has been a popular pastime ever since. If you’re on a tight schedule, or budget, you can opt for a hitomakumi ticket for just one act. Rent a headset (from $4.60) for blow-by-blow explanations of the action in English (; Chuo-ku, Ginza 4-12-15; single-act tickets from $9).



MINI GUIDE Budget Tokyo Activities



Lonely Planet Winter 2015




Homeikan’s main wing is listed as an important cultural property.

Atop a slope in a residential neighborhood close to the campus of the University of Tokyo, the venerable Homeikan is a beautifully crafted wooden ryokan with two adjacent wings and a third situated fve minutes’ walk away (; Bunkyo-ku, Hongo 5-chome 10-5; from $124). One of the city’s few boutique hotels, the Shibuya Granbell Hotel is just moments from the heart of Shibuya, but very quiet for its central location (; Shibuya-ku, Sakuragaoka-cho 15-17; from $187).

Parks and gardens Many of Tokyo’s leafy escapes (such as Yoyogi Park) are free, and can be great for people-watching. Grab a bento box for a picnic. Views Several skyscrapers have free observation foors. Try the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Offces or the Sumitomo Building in Shinjuku. Museums Tokyo has many niche museums that are free. Learn about artisans at the Edo Shitamachi Traditional Crafts Museum, the history of beer in Japan at the Beer Museum Yebisu, or the threat of parasites at the Meguro Parasitological Museum. Shrines and temples Shinto shrines are almost always free to enter, as are the grounds of the Buddhist Senso-ji temple, a Tokyo landmark (pictured).

EXPERT TIP Travelers can now connect to free Wi-Fi networks in the city’s subway stations. With maps and other online resources at your fngertips, Tokyo will be much easier to navigate.


Lonely Planet’s Pocket Tokyo ($13.99) is ideal for short trips, while Tokyo ($21.99) is a comprehensive guide to the city. The local, English language Metropolis magazine has information on events and restaurants (



Sawanoya Ryokan in quiet Yanaka has friendly staff and all the hospitality you would expect of a ryokan (traditional inn). You can rent bikes here to explore the area (; Taitoku, Yanaka 2-3-11; from $90 en suite).


The Know-How


Tokyo has two international airports. Narita International Airport is 36 miles east of Tokyo; the Narita Express (from $26) and Keisei Skyliner ($22) trains connect it to the city. The smaller Haneda Airport, much closer to the city center, has added daytime international fights, but some fights still arrive in the middle of the night when a pricey taxi is your only transportation option. Otherwise, take the Tokyo Monorail or Keikyu Line. A prepaid Suica card can be used for almost all trains and buses (; minimum input $8).


Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate, aka “The Bean,” in Chicago’s Millennium Park

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The huge Art Institute houses masterpieces from around the globe, including a fabulous selection of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings. The third foor is home to the Modern Wing, which hangs Picassos and Mirós, and the sculpture garden, which is free-admission (; 111 S. Michigan Ave.; 10:30am–5pm, until 8pm Thu; $14–$25).


Museums of Chicago In Chicago, whimsical public art studs the street, and museums invite you to explore everything from a Monet masterpiece to colossal dinosaurs and outer space.

Big-Hitter Museums

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The Adler is housed in a 1930s building with 12 sides, one for each sign of the zodiac. There are public telescopes to view the stars, 3-D flms that recreate supernovas, interactive exhibits that simulate cosmic events such as a meteor hitting the Earth, and the Planet Explorers exhibit where kids can launch a rocket (; 1300 S. Lake Shore Dr.; 9:30am–4pm, to 4:30pm Sat & Sun; $12).



Covering art from 1945 onward, the museum can be considered the Art Institute’s brash, rebellious sibling, with especially strong minimalist, surrealist and book arts collections, and permanent works by Alexander Calder, René Magritte, Cindy Sherman and Andy Warhol (; 220 E. Chicago Ave.; 10am–5pm Wed–Sun, 10am–8pm Tue, closed Mon; $12).

Founded in 1982, this museum – one of the city’s best – is the largest Latino arts institution in the U.S. The permanent collection sums up 1,000 years of Mexican art and culture through classical paintings, gold altars, rich folk art, beadwork and more. Look for the psychedelic “semen-acrylic” painting (; 1852 W. 19th St.; 10am–5pm, closed Mon; free).

Offbeat Museums

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The mammoth Field Museum of natural history, founded in 1893, houses 20 million artifacts, including beetles, mummies, gemstones and Bushman the stuffed gorilla. But the collection’s rock star is Sue: at 13 feet tall and 42 feet long, she’s the largest and best-preserved Tyrannosaurus rex yet discovered and even has her own on-site store (; 1400 S. Lake Shore Dr.; 9am–5pm; $18).

Georges Seurat’s La Grande Jatte at the Art Institute of Chicago

Cosmic flms are shown in the theaters at Adler Planetarium.

This small museum in the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago has exhibits that include a glass cube stuffed with one million $1 bills and a counterfeit display that differentiates real bills from fakes. Learn why we call $1,000 a “grand,” take a photo holding the million-dollar-stuffed briefcase, and leave with a free bag of shredded money (; 230 S. LaSalle St.; 8:30am–5pm Mon–Fri; free).

Busy Beaver Button Museum houses more than 9,000 badges.




The permanent exhibits of this enormous museum examine just about every aspect of life on Earth, but its pleasures are in the details: chicks breaking out of eggshells in the chick hatchery, and the tiny furnishings in Colleen Moore’s fairy castle. To go big, explore a German U-boat or climb into the life-size coal mine shaft (; 5700 S. Lake Shore Dr.; 9:30-4pm: $18).

Even George Washington gave out campaign badges, though in his era they were the sew-on kind. Pin-back badges came along in 1896. Busy Beaver chronicles its history in displays holding thousands of the little mementos, touting subjects as diverse as Bozo the Clown and Big Rock Point Nuclear Plant (; 3279 W. Armitage Ave.; 10am–4pm Mon–Fri; free).

Who knew? Ben Franklin liked to be fogged, and Egypt’s Queen Hatshepsut had a foot fetish. This museum, housed in a repurposed synagogue, reveals this and more in its displays of leather, fetish and S&M subcultures, including the Red Spanking Bench (; 6418 N. Greenview Ave.; 11am–7pm Thu & Fri, to 5pm Sat & Sun; $10).



MINI GUIDE Museums of Chicago


The Know-How


Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport is 17 miles northwest of the city. It’s often cheaper to fy in and out of smaller Midway International Airport, used mostly by domestic carriers. There is a 24-hour train service on the Blue Line to and from the Loop, but it may be quicker to use a shared shuttle van service such as Airport Express ($32 to Loop hotels; Taxis cost around $45. The effcient “L” train system and bus network cover the city. Ventra tickets are ideal for visitors; a single ride ticket, including two transfers, costs $3 ( WHERE TO STAY

The boutique Acme mixes industrial fxtures with mid-century furniture, retro lamps, graffti and modern art. The hotel is ideally located between the Magnifcent Mile and the Theater District (; 15 E. Ohio St.; from $280). 118

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The impressive lobby bar at The Palmer House hotel

The Palmer House set world records when it opened in 1875: frst to use electric lighting, frst to have in-room telephones. With its frescoes and Tiffany chandeliers, the lobby still has an “Oh my God!” opulence (palmerhousehiltonhotel .com; 17 E. Monroe St.; from $185). The 63-room Ivy parcels out its chambers so there are just fve per foor, making it feel very intimate. The rooms offer platform beds, big soaking tubs and eco-friendly bamboo fooring, and the hotel has a rooftop bar (; 233 E. Ontario; from $109).

Chicago has commissioned some fascinating artworks: Picasso’s untitled Known as “The Picasso” (below), this sculpture was commissioned when the artist was 82 and erected in Daley Plaza in 1967. It was given as a gift and Pablo never revealed what he intended it to represent. Joan Miró’s The Sun, the Moon and One Star Also named Miró’s Chicago, it’s made of various metals, cement and tile. Miró hoped to evoke the “mystical force of a great Earth mother.” Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate, aka “The Bean” Walk under the giant mirrored sculpture in Millennium Park and touch its silvery smoothness, then stand on the west side, hold your camera at waist level and take a self-portrait with a skyline background.

FOR MORE INFORMATION Lonely Planet’s Chicago ($21.99) is a comprehensive guide; chapters from the book can be downloaded at ($4.95). For more on Chicago’s Public Art Program, including location details, see One More Time: The Best of Mike Royko is a collection of vignettes of Chicago life by the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer ($12; University of Chicago Press).




The noble art of skijoring in Les Trois Vallées resort of Courchevel

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Morzine is the best known of the 12 villages that make up the poetically dubbed Les Portes du Soleil (The Gates of the Sun), a gargantuan ski area strung along the French-Swiss border. Morzine has retained some traditional alpine charm and is ideal beginner terrain, with easily accessible nursery slopes (; Morzine–Les Gets day ski pass $42).


Savoy Winter Activities Visit the northern French Alps, a landscape of glassy lakes, dense forests and epic peaks – including the mighty Mont Blanc – for some of Europe’s best skiing and other snow-driven pursuits.


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Situated 25 minutes from Chambéry, in the little-known Massif des Bauges Regional Nature Park, Savoie Grand Revard has 90 miles of cross-country trails to explore within the beautiful forest. Some cross-country routes are open at night, and there are 37 miles of marked snowshoeing trails, snowmobiles, skijoring and sledding (; Nordic day ski pass $11.50).



Les Trois Vallées is the largest ski area in the world, with some 370 miles of pistes, or groomed runs, and seven resorts, including Val Thorens, Méribel and Courchevel. At wealthy Méribel, beginners are set apart and advanced skiers look elsewhere, leaving the 90 miles of (mostly blue and red) runs, 57 ski lifts and two Olympic runs in the hands of intermediates (; Les Trois Vallées day ski pass $74).

Many head to Val d’Isère for its awesome black runs and off-piste skiing. The Face Olympique de Bellevarde, used for World Cup events and the men’s Olympic downhill, has fantastic views of Tignes and La Grande Motte glacier. The huge Espace Killy skiing area has intermediate and advanced runs, and miles of glorious off-piste (; Espace Killy day ski pass $65).

Other Activities

Snowy Activities Small, trendy Avoriaz, in Les Portes du Soleil, is a purpose-built ski resort just up the valley from Morzine. The slopes here present more of a challenge than most in the area, and it’s freestyle heaven for boarders, with deep powder, several snow parks to play in and a fantastic superpipe near the top of the Prodains cable car (; Avoriaz day lift ticket $44.50).

The Méribel–Mottaret ski area in Méribel, Les Trois Vallées

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A snowboarder lands a jump at Avoriaz, Portes du Soleil. CLIMBING

Courchevel in Les Trois Vallées is big on alternative snow action, including ski mountaineering and ice climbing. Beginners can hire a guide to help them scale a 59-foot artifcial ice wall at the Altiport. Experienced climbers can join a group in tackling Grand Bec (11,148 feet), a beautiful glaciated peak that takes two days to conquer (, Altiport two-hour climb $65; guides-courchevel-meribel .com, Grand Bec trip from $163).

Five miles from Mont Blanc, the Aiguille du Midi (12,605 feet) is one of Chamonix’s most distinctive landmarks. The views of the Alps from the summit are stunning. The vertiginous Téléphérique de l’Aiguille du Midi, the highest cable car in Europe, takes 20 minutes to link Chamonix with the viewpoint (compagniedumontblanc; 8:30am–4:30pm; return $67). GLACIER WALK

The 656-foot-deep Mer de Glace, France’s largest glacier, snakes 4 miles through rocky spires and moves up to 295 feet a year. A quaint red train trundles up the rack-and-pinion rail line from Chamonix to Montenvers (6,276 feet), from where a cable car takes you down to the glacier and the Grotte de la Mer de Glace ice cave (; train return $35.50, includes access to cable car and cave visit).

Train du Montenvers trundles by the Mer de Glace glacier. OLD TOWN

At the northern outlet of the mountain-fanked Lac d’Annecy, the town of Annecy is full of medieval charm ( Pasteldaubed houses and colonnaded passageways crowd the town center, around the whimsically turreted 12th-century Palais de l’Isle. Hour-long lake cruises relaunch later in the ski season, running from mid-February to Christmas (; $18.50).




Savoy Winter Activities Activities



Lonely Planet Winter 2015


The season begins with the frst big snow, usually around mid-December, and fnishes in late April or early May.

• France’s leading ski school, the École La Bouitte’s stone-and-wood-built Comfort Room Aurélie

L’Auberge du Manoir has pristine mountain views, quaint pine-paneled rooms, an outdoor hot tub and a bar where an open fre keeps things cozy. The homemade breakfast is a treat (chalethotel; Chamonix; en suite shower from $125). La Bouitte is a farmhouse with rustic rooms, a hot tub and a spa, with treatments such as fragrant hay baths. The owners’ fondness for alpine herbs and seasonal food is apparent in the two-Michelin-starred restaurant (; St. Marcel; from $219).

du Ski Français, has branches in every resort and has competitive rates. A group lesson typically costs around $170 for fve morning or afternoon sessions (

• You’ll need a lift pass to ride the various drag lifts, chairlifts, gondolas, cable cars and funicular railways. Budget at least $295 for a six-day pass.

• Cheaper passes – usually around $8 a day – are needed for cross- country ski trails.

• Skis, snowboards and other equipment can be rented at every resort. All inclusive rental costs around $46 a day for alpine equipment and snowboarding gear, and around $23 for cross-country.

EXPERT TIP For details on staying in a refuge (mountain hut with bunk beds) high on the Mont Blanc massif, contact the tourist offce or the Club Alpin Français (04 50 53 16 03; Expect to pay around $28 for a dorm bed and $44 to $55 for half board (includes breakfast and dinner).


Lonely Planet’s France ($27.99) has a chapter on the French Alps & the Jura Mountains, which covers Savoy and includes extra information on various winter activities; the chapter is available to download at ($4.95). The Savoie Mont Blanc Tourisme website also has helpful information (



A godsend for cash-strapped skiers, La Chaumière is in the middle of St.-Gervais, Mègeve and Chamonix ski resorts. This chaletstyle hotel has bright, modern rooms with balconies (lachaumierehotel .com; Saint-Gervais-les-Bains; from $55).


The Know-How


Several airlines fy to Geneva and Lyon from major U.S. airports. Bus services run from Geneva Airport to Courchevel, Méribel and Chamonix. During the ski season, buses run from Geneva airport to Morzine and Avoriaz (; Geneva Airport to Chamonix $70). Private bus companies run airport transfer services ( Eurostar ski trains run between London and Moûtiers weekends from midDecember to mid-April (eurostar .com; from about $232) to Geneva, Grenoble or Lyon.


Fold 2 Strolling in War Memorial Gardens

North of the Liffey FARMLEIGH HOUSE

In the northwest corner of Phoenix Park, Farmleigh, once owned by the Guinness family and purchased by the Irish government in 1999, is open to visitors for 45-minute house tours. The real highlight of the 78-acre estate is the garden, where regular shows are held. Summer events include food fairs and classical concerts. (; Castleknock; 10am–6pm daily, with tours 10:15am –4:15pm; free). ROTUNDA HOSPITAL


Hidden Corners of Dublin Wander off Grafton Street and away from Temple Bar to fnd neighborhoods full of intriguing historic sites and favorite local spots.

Kilmainham & the Liberties

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This magnifcent scholars’ library, virtually unchanged in three centuries, is one of Dublin’s most beautiful open secrets. Few scale its ancient stairs to see the dark oak bookcases, each topped with elaborately carved gables. Slow into sync with the grandfather clock’s ticking and see items that belonged to Gulliver’s Travels author Jonathan Swift (; St. Patrick’s Close; closed Tue and Sun; $3.50).


The north side’s pubs don’t get as many visitors as their south side brethren do, but they are more authentic for it. A drink in Walsh’s in the heart of the Stoneybatter district (the old sign outside says J. Walsh & Co.) is about as pure a traditional experience you’ll have; at the bar, the friendly staff and clientele (a mix of locals and hipster imports) are a treat (; 6 Stoneybatter; from 3pm daily; beer from $6).

Docklands & the Grand Canal

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Part of the Fumbally Development, this terrifc warehouse is bringing café life to the Liberties. The menu, which uses ample organic and local produce, has a range of pastries, delicious homemade sandwiches, healthy breakfasts and lunch specials, and great coffee (; Fumbally Lane; 8am–5pm Mon–Fri. 10am–5pm Sat; lunch from $7).

Founded in 1745, this was once the world’s largest maternity hospital. The grandest of its public rooms is the sumptuous Rotunda Chapel, opened in 1762, which features colored plasterwork. This is still a working hospital and not formally a tourist attraction. If you visit, come singly or in pairs, and be very quiet when looking around (; Parnell Square; general visiting hours 6:30pm–8:30pm daily and 2pm–4pm Sat–Sun).

Farmleigh House was expanded in the 1880s.

The Fumbally serves its own unique seasonal coffee blend. WAR MEMORIAL GARDENS

One of four gardens in Ireland designed by famous architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, War Memorial Gardens commemorates the 49,400 Irish soldiers who died during WWI; their names are inscribed in the two huge granite book rooms that stand at one end (; South Circular Road, Islandbridge; open daily; 8am–dusk Mon–Fri, from 10am Sat–Sun; free).

If you need to refuel in “Canary Dwarf,” head to this pizzeria, easily the best in town. It’s home to a traditional Neapolitan pizza oven, making margheritas, calzone and other Neapolitan specialities a treat. There’s also room for a New York slice, as well as a few house creations such as the Roxy, with chili, bacon, garlic and basil (; 58 Upper Grand Canal St.; daily from 6pm; pizzas from $15). THE DESIGN TOWER

Housed in a 19th-century warehouse, this design center (part of a Trinity College campus) has studios for local craftspeople who produce jewelry in contemporary and Celtic-inspired designs, and work with Irish pewter, ceramics and fabrics. It’s opposite the Waterways Visitors Centre, off Lower Grand Canal Street (the; Pearse St.; 9:30am–6pm Mon–Sat, until 8pm Thu).

Poolbeg Lighthouse stands in the middle of Dublin Bay. POOLBEG LIGHTHOUSE

One of Dublin’s most rewarding walks is a stroll along the South Wall to the bright red Poolbeg Lighthouse Head to Ringsend (reachable by bus 1 from the city center). From the nearest bus stop it’s a 2-mile walk past the power station to the start of the wall, and then just over a mile along the breakwater. The reward: an amazing view of Dublin Bay and the city behind you.



MINI GUIDE Hidden Corners of Dublin



Martin Sheen’s grin greets you upon entering cozy Trinity Lodge, which he declared his favorite spot for an Irish stay. He’s not the only one: this place is so popular that they’ve added a townhouse across the road (; 12 S. Frederick St.; from $111). 122

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The Know-How


Dublin Airport is Ireland’s major international gateway airport, with direct fights from North America, Europe and Asia. It is 6 miles north of the city center. You can take a private coach (; from $8), the Airlink bus (; from $8) or public bus 16 (; $4), which take 30 to 45 minutes. A taxi will cost roughly $30. Getting around Dublin is best done on foot: the city’s center is only 2 miles across. Otherwise, the bus is useful for the city’s west side and suburbs. Mass transit is available through DART (; from $3.50).



A modern take on the four-poster bed at Westbury Hotel

Within walking distance of St. Stephen’s Green, Waterloo House is a lovely guesthouse spread over two Georgian houses. Rooms are tastefully decorated with highquality furnishings (; 8–10 Waterloo Rd.; from $74). Visiting celebrities have long favored the Westbury Hotel’s elegant suites. The standard rooms are perfectly comfortable but lack the grandeur of the luxurious public spaces (; corner of Balfe and Harry Streets, off Grafton St.; from $270).

This canal from the 1790s marks the traditional northern edge of the city center. Here are some sights beyond it: Glasnevin Cemetery The tombstones are a who’s who of Irish history, from Daniel O’Connell to Charles Stewart Parnell and Michael Collins ( National Botanic Gardens Founded in 1795, these gardens feature the latest in botanical technology and are home to a series of historic wrought iron glasshouses ( Casino at Marino An enchanting 18th-century summer house ( Croke Park Where thousands worship the twin gods of hurling (pictured) and Gaelic football (

EXPERT TIP To experience Dubliners at their most comfortable and convivial, spend some time in a pub. A night out in a pub remains one of the most memorable experiences of a visit to Ireland. Every local has a favorite watering hole; you’ll have about 1,000 pubs to choose from.

FOR MORE INFORMATION Lonely Planet’s Dublin ($22.99) has full coverage of the city. Nobel Prize-winning poet Seamus Heaney spent 40-odd years living in Dublin, and his works evoke the spirit and character of Ireland. A useful guide to local events can be found at



Fold 2 Reykjavík is the world’s most northerly capital.

Geothermal Pools & Spas BLUE LAGOON

Set in a black lava feld, the milky-blue spa is fed by water (at a perfect 100°F) from the futuristic Svartsengi geothermal plant. Its silver towers, roiling clouds of steam, and people daubed in blue-white silica mud provide an off-the-planet scene. There are two steam rooms, a spa, a café and a restaurant; it’s a 45-minute drive from the city center (; 240 Grindavík; from $34).



Excursions from Reykjavík Famed for its Viking history and high-energy nightlife, Iceland’s capital is the perfect pit stop for a range of activities, from spotting puffns to taking in one of the world’s best dive sites.


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Known for crash landings and frantic futtering on land, the puffn is surprisingly graceful in water and spends most of its year at sea. From May to August it comes to land to breed; around 50,000 of them nest on Lundey and Akurey, two islands just offshore from Reykjavík. Visit them on the one-hour Puffn Express boat trips, which sail from the harbor several times a day (; Old Harbour; from $38).

Laugardalslaug Geothermal Pool, the largest in Iceland, is a place where children play, teenagers firt, business deals are made and everyone catches up on the latest gossip. It has an Olympic-size indoor pool (82°F), an outdoor pool, four hot pots (100°F–111°F), a steam bath, a whirlpool and a 282-foot water slide. Get there via bus 14 (; Sundlaugavegur 30a; 6:30am–10pm weekdays, from 8am weekends; from $4.50).


The Blue Flag Nauthólsvík geothermal beach, on the edge of the Atlantic, is packed with happy bathers in summer, thanks to golden sand imported from Morocco and an artifcial hot spring that keeps the water at a pleasant 64°F–68°F. There are sociable hot pots, changing rooms, a snack bar, and canoes and rowboats. Get there on bus 19 (; Ylströnd; free admission May 15–Aug 15, $4.25 the rest of the year).

Other Excursions

Animal Watching Iceland is a fantastic place for whale watching; its waters hold more than 20 species of cetacean. In Faxafói bay you can see white-beaked dolphins, harbor porpoises, minkes and, from time to time, migratory humpbacks. Between April and October, Elding Whale Watching runs three-hour trips from Reykjavík’s Old Harbour (; Old Harbour; from $68).

Blue Lagoon’s hot water comes from a geothermal power plant.

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Humpback whales are famed for their breaching behavior. BIRDS

Head less than a mile west from the city center and you reach a red and white lighthouse, a lava-strewn beach and a windswept golf course. Seltjarnarnes is a haven for bird-watching. Some 106 species have been spotted and the offshore island of Grótta is a natural reserve (accessible on foot at low tide but closed in nesting season, May–July). Expect to see Arctic terns, eider ducks and fulmars (

Horses are an integral part of Icelandic life, and the sturdy, short local horse is a gentle breed, ideal for inexperienced riders. Horse farms around Reykjavík offer some truly unforgettable tours, from trotting through lava felds under the midnight sun to riding to the beautiful Gullfoss waterfall and the hot springs at Geysir (; from $53).


The tiny, uninhabited island of Viđey, a few minutes offshore, is crisscrossed with paths and makes an ideal day trip. Strange modern artworks (including Yoko Ono’s Imagine Peace Tower), an abandoned village and shipwrecks give a melancholy feel; the walks are eminently peaceful and provide great bird-watching opportunities. Get a trail map at the harbor (; return ferry from Old Harbour or Skarfabakki pier, $17).

Vikings brought horses to Iceland.


Iceland’s waters offer 328 feet of visibility, lava ravines, wrecks and thermal chimneys, making it a special dive destination. One of the best sites in the world is Silfra at Thingvellir – a freshwater rift that runs between the Eurasian and American continental plates. Dive Iceland runs a half-day tour from the city, half an hour away (; $293, including pickup, two dives, equipment and refreshments).




Excursions from Reykjavík Activities



Lonely Planet Winter 2015

Hotel Borg’s quadruple-glazed windows keep out street noise.

CenterHotel Arnarhvoll offers views of the bay and Mount Esja. Rooms, though small, have large windows letting in all that lovely Nordic light. A sauna and steam room are in the basement (; Ingólfsstraeti 1; from $152). At historic Hotel Borg, super-smart beige, black and cream decor, parquet foors, leather headboards and Bang & Olufsen fat-screens are standard throughout (; Posthusstraeti 11; from $289).



What to take off and what to put on … Community spirit Icelandic pools have a strict code of hygiene because they are free of chemicals. Have a thorough shower without your swimsuit before you enter. Valuable Tip If swimming in natural springs, remove jewelry and watches, as the minerals can discolor the metal. Look after your locks When visiting the Blue Lagoon, cover your hair in a swim cap or apply plenty of conditioner afterward; the silica in the water plays havoc with hair. Smooth operator Apply the silica mud that’s provided in vats around the lagoon to your skin to cleanse and exfoliate.

A daylong bus tour is one of the best ways to see natural wonders and ideal if you want to combine sightseeing with snowmobiling, horseback riding, kayaking and other activities (Golden Circle & Glacier Snow Scooter Ride day tour;; $327).

FOR MORE INFORMATION Lonely Planet’s Iceland ($27.99) has a full chapter on Reykjavík and the surrounding areas, and is also available to download at ($19.59). Iceland Review is a daily news digest that also covers entertainment and culture ( Nobel Prize-winning writer Halldór Laxness lived in Reykjavík, and many of his works, such as Independent People, focus on local people ($16.95, Vintage Classics).



Rooms at Sunna are simple, with honey parquet foors, and several have good views of Hallgrímskirkja church. There are studio apartments that sleep up to eight; breakfast includes homebaked bread (; 26 Thorsgata; from $106).


The Know-How


Several major airlines fy to Reykjavík; it takes 5½ hours to get there from NYC and about seven hours from the West Coast. International fights operate through Kefavík International Airport, 30 miles west of Reykjavík. The easiest way to travel from there and back is on the Reykjavík Excursions Flybus, which can drop you off at your hotel in about 45 minutes (; $17 to city center, $21 to your hotel). The city is easy to traverse on foot or by bus ( Cars can be rented at the airport; prebooking is advised.


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Religious Buildings AYASOFYA

The Blue Mosque is one of the jewels of Ottoman architecture.

Historic Istanbul Turkey’s largest city – where Europe meets Asia – has long played host to history on an epic scale. From Byzantine churches to Ottoman palaces, its wellpreserved heritage is very present .

Old City Monuments

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In the 1600s, Sultan Ahmed I set out to build a mosque to surpass Ayasofya. He came close: the curvaceous exterior of the Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Mosque) and its six minarets (a record at the time) dominate the Old City skyline. The interior features stained glass, marble latticework and tens of thousands of fne blue tiles, after which the mosque is named (Hippodrome; closed to visitors at prayer times; donation requested).


This 16th-century mosque atop one of the city’s seven hills was commissioned by the richest and most powerful of sultans, Suleyman the Magnifcent, and it certainly lives up to its patron’s name. Designed by Mimar Sinan, the most renowned of all imperial architects, it features a spacious, light-flled interior patterned with Iznik tiles and stained glass windows (Prof. Sıddık Sami Onar Caddesi; donation requested).

Leisure Buildings

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Home to the ruling sultans of the Ottoman Empire from the 1460s to the 1830s, this sprawling palace encompasses richly decorated chambers, tile-lined pleasure pavilions overlooking the Bosphorus strait, and the private world of the harem. Extravagant relics of the dynasty’s intrigue and excess abound (; Topkapı Sarayı; closed Tue; admission $13.50, plus $7.50 for harem).

Ayasofya is the Turkish name for Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom).



This magnifcent underground reservoir has 336 columns arranged in 12 rows beneath a vast vaulted ceiling. The effect is striking: a symmetrical, softly lit forest of pillars refected in a mirror of water below. Visitors walk through on raised wooden boards while schools of ghostly carp fit through the water (; Yerebatan Caddesi 13; admission $5.50).

Commissioned by the Byzantine emperor Justinian in AD 532, this church was Christendom’s crowning jewel for a millennium. It became a mosque under the Ottomans and is now a museum. A vast, seemingly unsupported dome crowns golden mosaics and stained-glass windows that bathe the space in ethereal half-light (; Ayasofya Square; admission $11).

Prepare to bargain hard at the venerable Grand Bazaar. GRAND BAZAAR

Founded more than 500 years ago by Mehmet the Conqueror, the Grand Bazaar has grown from humble origins (one small warehouse) into one of the world’s most famous souqs. A covered city within a city, the market has miles of alleyways lined with 4,000-plus shops stacked with everything from jewelry and carpets to Turkish delights (; Kapalı Çarşı, 9am–7pm; closed Sun).

This 16th-century Turkish bath is one of the city’s most beautiful. Designed by the architect Sinan, it has separate baths for men and women, with bathing basins, private cubicles and an ornate, domed chamber at its center. Treatments include exfoliating scrubs and oil massages (cemberli; Vezirhan Caddesi 8; 6am–midnight; from $24). ZIHNI

Aubergines and rice recall Ottoman recipes at Asitane. ASITANE

The elegant Zihni Bar inhabits a century-old apartment in the Nişantaşı district and was designed by the architect Vedat Tek, famed for his ornate Ottoman-style buildings. The whole place is a time warp of wood paneling, tiled alcoves, ornate ceilings and stained glass, and makes for an evocative place for a cocktail or glass of Turkish wine (; Vali Konağı Caddesi 39; closed Sun and May–Sept.; glass of wine from $9).

Tucked away in the district of Fatih next to the exquisite Chora Church, this elegant courtyard restaurant offers a taste of Ottoman imperial cuisine. Its team has spent decades hunting down and testing historic recipes, from cinnamon-dusted chicken to vine leaves stuffed with sour cherries (; Kariye Camii Sokak 6; 11am–midnight; entrées from about $14).



MINI GUIDE Historic Istanbul




Lonely Planet Winter 2015





The Pera Palace was a favorite with Orient Express passengers.

Next to historic Galata Tower, Anemon Galata features elegant rooms with painted ceilings and an opulent foyer. The glass-walled rooftop restaurant offers splendid views (; corner of Galata Meydani and Büyükhendek Caddesi; from $270). The 120-year-old and renovated Pera Palace Hotel has long been the choice of famous travelers, most notably author Agatha Christie. The hotel retains a sense of luxury in its grand public spaces (jumeirah .com; Mesrutiyet Caddesi 52; from $275).

Empires have come and gone in this city. Here is a quick primer: Byzantium A Greek colony founded in 657 BC, it was taken over by the Romans in AD 196. Constantinople Emperor Constantine the Great made Byzantium his capital in AD 330 and the city was later renamed in his honor. It was the seat of Byzantine rulers for most of the next 1,100 years. Ottoman Era In 1453, the city fell to the Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II, ushering in Turkish rule. Turkish Republic Nationalist leader Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (pictured), overthrew the last sultan in 1922, and Turkey’s capital was moved to Ankara.

EXPERT TIP The Museum Pass Istanbul is valid for 72 hours, provides queue-free admission to the Ayasofya, Topkapı Palace, Chora Church and some of the city’s best museums, and offers a range of discounts ( _pass; $31).

FOR MORE INFORMATION Lonely Planet’s Istanbul ($21.99) is a comprehensive guide to the city, including restaurants and hotels. Pocket Istanbul ($13.99) is for those who want to travel light. The Cornucopia magazine blog covers history and culture in the city ( For literature, try Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk’s novel My Name is Red ($15.95, Penguin Random House), a murder-mystery set in 16th-century Istanbul.


WHERE TO STAY The Hotel Sari Konak is full of historic touches such as antiques, etchings and embroideries. Relax by the courtyard fountain, or take in city views from the rooftop terrace (; Mimar Mehmet Aga Caddesi 42–46; from $120).


The Know-How


Istanbul’s main airport, Atatürk International Airport, is in Yeşilköy, 14 miles west of Sultanahmet. Flight duration is about 10 hours from NYC and 14 hours from LA. The most enjoyable way to get around is via one of numerous ferry routes (ido; fares from $3). The city’s metro, train, tram and light rail lines serve a sizable area. The basic fare across public transport is about $0.75, but the Istanbulkart ( .tr) smart card gives discounts. Taxis are another cheap way to get around ($1.25 starting rate, then $0.90 per mile).



HOW I TRAVEL I travel mostly with my

husband or fellow photographers. My favorite travel companion is my friend Brenna Nickels (@brenna_marriie). She and I have a similar traveling style.

Favorite Caught Moment “There is a small town in central Italy called Civita di Bagnoregio. It rises above a vast canyon and is only accessible by a footbridge. It’s a quiet gem that is absolutely breathtaking.”


Seattle, Washington

WHY I TRAVEL Traveling is my best teacher.



It’s taught me so much about myself, and has given me a greater understanding of the world. There is so much vulnerability in the unfamiliar. You simply just learn to embrace it and grow from it.

International Airport (Sea-Tac) CURRENT OCCUPATION:

Photographer PLACES LIVED:

Eastern Washington; Northern California; Vilnius, Lithuania

Favorite Road Trip “A couple of my girlfriends and I drove to the San Juan Islands. We randomly ended up at a local community center for a square-dance competition!”


It comes in surprising forms, often in the most subtle of ways. Just be

watching, tasting, learning, exploring . . . you’ll find the inspiration all around you.


#1 Southern France #2 Patagonia #3


TR AVE L ESS ENTI A L S I must have my Aritzia blanket scarf ($85; You can bundle it into a pillow, wear it as a scarf, or use it as a blanket.


Lonely Planet Winter 2015

A suitcase with color ($259; lipault-us .com) is a necessity! Invest in something with a color or pattern to save time at the baggage carousel.

My trusty Nikes ($120; get me through the airport. They’re comfy, and it’s one less item to pack for my workouts.

Lonely Planet (ISSN 2379-9390). Winter 2015, Volume 1, Issue 1. Published four times a year (Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall) by Lonely Planet Global, Inc., 230 Franklin Road, Building 2B, Franklin, TN 37064. Application to mail at Periodicals postage prices is pending at Franklin, TN, and additional mailing ofces. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Lonely Planet, PO Box 37520, Boone, IA 50037-0520. Subscriber Services, U.S., Canada and other International: Direct all inquiries, address changes, subscription orders, etc. to Lonely Planet, PO Box 37520, Boone, IA 50037-0520. You may also access customer service via the web at, via email at or by phone at 800-829-9121. Subscribers: If the Post Ofce alerts us that your magazine is undeliverable, we have no further obligation unless we receive a corrected address within one year. Please allow up to eight weeks for delivery of your first issue. Subscription rates: 1 year $12.00 domestic only; in Canada, $20; other International, $35 (Publisher’s suggested price). Single copies $5.99.

Avid Instagrammer Victoria Wright, aka @veekste r, sh are s h er travel exper iences at home in Seattle and ab road.

TOM A S Z F URM A NE K Photo by: Tomasz Furmanek

Lonely Planet magazine (US) Winter 2015  

This issue features Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2016 destinations, a highly-anticipated, annual collection and highlight destinations bot...

Lonely Planet magazine (US) Winter 2015  

This issue features Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2016 destinations, a highly-anticipated, annual collection and highlight destinations bot...